Hospice care has been given quite a bad rap because it is usually only associated with the end-of-life care. Although there is some truth to the statement, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a senior has to be dying in order to qualify for hospice care. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of common Hospice myths that are being spread unnecessarily.
The first step in choosing the perfect hospice care for your loved one is to know exactly what hospice care is all about and debunking all the Hospice myths that exist.
3 Most Common Hospice Myths
Here are the three myths we hear the most at A Paradise for Parents Assisted Living homes:
Hospice Myth #1: Hospice is a place.
One of the biggest Hospice myths is that hospice is a physical place where elderly people go before they pass away. However, it is actually a philosophy of care. Rather than focusing on curing the patient, hospice care focuses more on the betterment of the patient’s quality of life.
Whether your loved one is receiving in-home care or is in an assisted living facility, hospice care can be provided right where they are.
Hospice Myth #2: A Patient only can receive Hospice when they have a few weeks to live
Hospice care is specifically designed for people who have terminal illnesses. However, those illnesses can last for years potentially. Even though these illnesses are not curable, it the hospice’s best interest to provide patients more comfort and help them experience the best quality of life. Of all the Hospice myths this is the one that keeps people from signing up for Hospice.
Although your loved one has a terminal illness, they don’t have to be on the brink of death in order to be eligible for hospice care. The patients and their families are able to receive care for as long as they like, depending on the illness.
Not to give false hope, but there are patients who have been able to ‘graduate’ from Hospice. Through certain medical and/or Holistic treatments, some people have been able to recover enough that they no longer need Hospice. If the Hospice myth that it is just for the very end of life was true, Hospice would never take on these cases.
Hospice Myth #3: Hospice care will leave you penniless.
Hospice care is not expensive. In fact, Hospice is completely free for eligible people. Hospice expenses are paid through Medicare. When people arrive at the stage where they need Hospice, they may have already paid a lot of medical expenses. It’s nice to know that the last one of the Hospice myths is untrue.
The list of misconceptions can go on and on, but you may have an inkling of what hospice care is all about by now. Simply put, hospice is bent on caring for patients rather than curing them of their terminal illnesses. A team of professionals expertly manages pain and other symptoms of the disease. The hospice team is composed of
- Social workers
- Home health aides
- Spiritual care providers
- Physical therapists
- Nutritionists, and
The care your elderly loved one receives is tailored just for him/her, ensuring they receive only the best care possible.
Important Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Hospice
When it comes to the care and comfort of your loved one, you choose nothing but the best. Now that you know about some of the Hospice myths, here are several important questions to ask before committing to hospice care:
Is the hospice certified by Medicare?
When a hospice is Medicare-certified, they must follow certain rules and regulations. This is an important point to consider. Especially if your loved one wants to receive hospice care as a part of their Medicare/Medicaid coverage.
2. Has it been surveyed by the state or a federal agency? When was the last survey conducted?
These types of surveys show if there are any deficiencies were noted. And if there were, how was it resolved. These reports are public. You can find them at the state Department of Health’s website. Here is the website to find Hospice surveys in Arizona. Take a look at them to see what deficiencies the surveyor found.
If there are a large amount of discrepancies, or if they have been fined excessively, you may want to consider another Hospice service. Read what the discrepancies are. Some may be as minor as not renewing their license on time.
We have several Hospices we recommend around the Phoenix area. Check out our resources page for a list of them.
3. Has it been accredited by a national organization?
Ask around if the hospice has been accredited by a national organization. This means that the organization has to ensure that a hospice meets certain quality standards. Accreditation is not mandatory. But it definitely shows that the hospice is committed to quality. Here are three of them, along with their websites.
4. Are the staff – physicians, social workers, nurses, and the like – certified or is experienced when it comes to palliative and hospice care?
Hospice professionals are able to attain several credentials based on their knowledge of hospice care and their educational attainment. Ask to see some of these credentials and talk to the staff about them.
5. Will any of the staff immediately respond and go to the home when crisis arise? At any time of the day, night, or weekends? Who will be available to make the home visit?
Another Hospice myth seems to be that Hospice only works certain hours. Most hospice care has their staff available on call 24/7. They are at your disposal and will send out staff whenever you need them. However, there are a few who offer limited support during weekends or nights.
Whenever a crisis arises, be sure to ask who will be the one to attend to the patient. They will usually send out a nurse when medical care is needed.
6. Do they do family evaluation surveys after a death of a patient?
A lot of hospices ask family members to evaluate their services after their loved one’s passing. You can ask the hospice to show you the most recent surveys to see how other families rated them.
7. Which nursing homes or hospitals use that particular Hospice?
If your loved one prefers a certain hospital, it is important to discuss this with the hospice to see they work with that hospital or medical facility. If the hospital your loved one prefers is not on the list, ask them if they can still extend their services. Most assisted living homes (including ours) will work with whichever Hospice the family desires.
8. What is the ratio of staff members to patients?
Most hospices designate a number of patients to every hospice professional. Their answer may influence you or your loved one’s decision to receive care from them.
9. Does the hospice partner with We Honor Veterans?
This may be important when your loved one is a veteran. The hospice partners of We Honor Veterans are known to demonstrate a commitment to improving the care veterans and their family members receive.
10. What are the extra services the hospice offers?
All hospices in the United States provide patients with:
- Medical care
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Emotional and spiritual care
As well as volunteers and grief support for the family after a death of a loved one.
In addition to these staple services, some hospices go an extra mile and offer programs specifically designed for people battling with specific diseases, pre-hospice care for individuals, and other extra services. Be sure to ask the hospice about the services they offer.
4 Points to Consider Before Sealing the Deal
There are four other points to consider before you pick the best hospice for your loved one:
Since hospice care is usually not a place (the first of the Hospice myths above), you call the shots as to where you want the care to take place – in a home, an assisted living home, a nursing facility, or in a hospital. However, it is wise to consider where the nursing staff is located and how far they are from your loved one. This is extremely important in the event that your loved one has a crisis or may need immediate assistance.
You can head over to www.wheretofindcare.com where you can search for hospice providers in every state. You are able to see and compare hospice agencies by their consumer quality score based on family reviews. This may not be your only basis for assessing a hospice’s quality, but it is a great start.
Level of Care Offered
It is, of course, important for hospice care to be able to accommodate the needs of your loved one. Some hospices only offer routine home care while others may include comfort care, respite care, and inpatient care. It is important to know what type of care your loved one needs before making the decision. You can ask their doctor for recommendations if you are unsure.
Look for Other Recommendations
What better way to look for a hospice than to ask for recommendations from people who experienced it first hand? A lot of people choose their healthcare providers based on recommendations from people they know. There is security in knowing that other people have been in your shoes. Let other people’s recommendation be one of the factors in choosing a hospice provider.
Choosing a hospice care doesn’t have to be confusing or emotionally draining. It is important to know that the best hospice care only has your loved one’s best interests in mind.