Frequently Asked Questions
1: When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made -- and
who should make it?
2: Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
3: What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
4: Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
5: What does the hospice admission process involve?
6: Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice can begin?
7: How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
8: Must someone be with the patient at all times?
9: How difficult is caring for a loved one with a terminal disease at home?
10: What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
11: Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
12: Is the home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
13: How does hospice "manage pain"?
14: What is hospice's success rate in relieving pain?
15: Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?
16: Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
17: Is hospice care covered by insurance?
18: Will hospice still provide care when the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance?
19: Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
20: If the patient is eligible
for Medicare, will there be any additional expenses to be paid?
Q: When should a decision about entering a hospice
program be made -- and who should make it?
A: At any time during a life-limiting
illness, it's appropriate to discuss all of a patient's care options, including
hospice. By law the decision belongs to the patient. Understandably, most people
are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping an all-out effort to "beat" their
disease. Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are
always available to discuss them with the patient, family and physician.
Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should
I raise it first?
A: The patient and family
should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician,
other healthcare professionals, clergy or friends.
Q: What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
A: Most physicians know
about hospice. If your physician wants more information, it is available from
the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, medical societies,
state hospice organizations, local hospices, or the National Hospice and Palliative
Care Organization Helpline, 1-800-658-8898. In addition,
physicians and all others can also obtain information on hospice from the American
Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Social
Q: Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular
A: Certainly. If improvement in the condition occurs and
the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice
and return to aggressive therapy or go on about his or her daily life.
If a discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and
most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.
Q: What does the hospice admission process involve?
A: One of the first things
hospice will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees
that hospice care is appropriate for this patient at this time. (Lion has medical
staff available to help patients who have no physician.) The patient will also
be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms
patients sign when they enter a hospital.
The so-called "hospice election
that the patient understands that the care is palliative (that is, aimed at
pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the
services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing
the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage for a terminal
Q: Is there any special equipment or changes
I have to mak e in my home before hospice can begin?
A: Lion Hospice will assess your needs, recommend
any necessary equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain it. In general,
Lion Hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient,
clean and safe as possible.
Q: How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at
A: There's no set number. One of the first things Lion's team will do
is prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address
the amount of care giving a patient needs. Lion's team members visit regularly
and are always accessible to answer questions and provide support.
Q: Must someone be with the patient at all times?
A: In the early weeks of care, it's usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the
time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the
fear of dying alone, hospice generally recommends someone be there continuously.
While family and friends must be relied on to give most of the care, hospices
do provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time
away for major caregivers.
Q: How difficult is caring for a loved one with a terminal disease at home?
A: It's never easy and sometimes can be quite hard. At the end of a long, progressive
illness, nights especially can be very long, lonely and scary. Lion Hospice
has staff available around the clock to consult with the family and to make
night visits as needed.
Q: What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
A: Lion Hospice patients are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers,
counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. Each provides
assistance based on his or her area of expertise. In addition, Lion Hospice
provides medications, supplies, equipment, hospital services, and additional
helpers in the home, as appropriate.
Q: Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
A: Lion Hospice will not hasten nor impede the dying process. Just as doctors and midwives lend
support and expertise during the time of childbirth, so Lion provides its presence
and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
Q: Is the home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
A: No. Although most hospice services are delivered in a personal residence, some patients
live in nursing homes or hospice centers.
Q: How does hospice "manage pain"?
A: Lion Hospice team members are up-to-date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief.
In addition, physical and occupational therapists assist patients to be as
mobile and self-sufficient as possible.
Lion Hospice believes that emotional pain and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical
pain, so it addresses these, as well. Counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.
Q: What is hospice's success rate in relieving pain?
Very high. Using some combination of medications, counseling and therapies,
most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
Q: Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's
A: Usually not. It is the goal of Lion to help patients be as comfortable
and alert as they desire. By constantly consulting with the patient, Lion Hospice
is very successful in reaching this goal.
Q: Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
A: Hospice care is not an offshoot of any religion. While some religious organizations have started
hospices (sometimes in connection with their hospitals), these hospices serve a broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.
Q: Is hospice care covered by insurance?
A: Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in some 42 states, and by
most private health insurance policies. To be sure of coverage, families should, of course, check with their employer or health insurance provider.
Q: Will hospice still provide care when the patient is not covered by Medicare
or any other health insurance?
A: The first thing Lion Hospice will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Barring this, Lion Hospice provides care and many services for those who cannot pay.
Q: Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
A: Lion Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for at least a year following the death of a loved one. We also sponsor bereavement and support groups for anyone in the community who has experienced the death
of a family member, a friend, or a loved one.
Q: If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be any additional expenses
to be paid?
A: Medicare covers all services and supplies related to the terminal illness for the hospice patient. While regulations allow some co-pays Lion Hospice chooses not to impose them on our patients and families.