Hospice Care FAQs

  • Can I be cared for by hospice if I live in a nursing home or other type of long-term care facility?

    Yes. Hospice services typically can be provided wherever the patient calls home. In addition to the standard services provided by the nursing home or alternate care facility, residents will receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, hospice aides, chaplains, social workers and volunteers.

  • How does hospice manage pain?

    In hospice care, we believe that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real as physical pain. Hospice nurses and doctors use the most effective medications and devices to relieve pain and other symptoms. They are joined by specialists who are trained in physical therapy, music therapy, art therapy, massage therapy and nutritional counseling to help maintain patient comfort. Finally, various counselors, including clergy, help with emotional and spiritual support for patients and and bereavement support for family members and caregivers.

  • What do hospice volunteers do?

    Hospice volunteers are a special group of people that give of their time and talents to help patients and their families. They are available to visit with you and help run errands. They can also assist with daily activities and may read, sing, write letters, or just reminisce with you and your loved ones. Their support enhances the quality of life for patients and helps relieve some of the demands that are often placed on caregivers.

  • What is hospice’s success rate in managing pain?

    Very high. Using a combination of medications, counseling and therapies, most people can attain an acceptable level of comfort to improve quality of life during end-of-life care.

  • Will medications prevent me or my loved one from being able to talk or know what’s happening?

    Usually not. In hospice, our goal is to help people live as actively as possible, free of pain or discomfort.

  • Does hospice help the family after the death of the patient?

    Yes. Hospice provides continuing support for caregivers and families for up to 13 months following the loss of a loved one. We also sponsor bereavement support groups, conduct memorial services and provide support for anyone in the community who has experienced the loss of a friend or loved one.

  • How is hospice care different from home health care?

    Home health care helps people recover from an illness or injury and become as self-sufficient as possible. Visits typically decrease as the patient’s condition improves.

    Hospice care keeps patients comfortable as symptoms of their terminal illness worsen. Services typically increase over time to meet the needs of the patient.

  • How is hospice care different from palliative care?

    Hospice and palliative care both focus on quality of life and relief of uncomfortable symptoms. The difference is that palliative care may begin earlier (e.g., at diagnosis) and take place at the same time as curative treatment. Hospice care begins after curative treatment stops, to improve comfort and quality of life as the patient nears the end of their life. Hospice care provides all the services palliative care does, but palliative care does not typically include all the services that hospice care provides.

  • What is hospice?

    Hospice is a type of specialized care for people who have terminal illness that is no longer responding to medical treatment or intervention. Rather than trying to cure the disease, we focus on pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, and help for families and caregivers.

  • How does hospice care work?

    In most cases, a family member serves as the patient’s primary caregiver and helps make decisions for their loved one. The hospice care team, working together with the caregiver, develops a plan to provide treatment, pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, personal care and specialized services for both the patient and family. Hospice staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help meet your needs.

  • How do I know when it’s time to consider hospice?

    Patients should consider hospice when medical treatments can no longer cure their disease or when the burden of treating symptoms outweighs the benefits of treatment. Although end-of-life care can be difficult to discuss, talking about hospice early on allows you to make educated decisions and understand a loved one’s wishes before a crisis occurs. If you're unsure whether hospice care is the right choice for you or a loved one, our “Is Hospice the Answer” quiz may help. You can also call your local Amedisys care center for a free assessment to see if it’s time to consider hospice care.

  • Do Medicare and insurance cover hospice care?

    Yes. Hospice services are 100% covered by Medicare Part A. They are also covered by Medicaid in most states, as well as many other private or managed care insurances

  • What are the benefits of Amedisys Hospice care?

    Some of the benefits of Amedisys hospice care include:

    • Specially trained team of caring hospice professionals
    • Care provided wherever the patient calls home
    • 100% of hospice costs covered by Medicare
    • 24/7 accessibility if needed
    • Focus on comfort and quality of life
    • Assistance with daily tasks and personal care
    • Emotional and spiritual support
    • Paid medications, equipment and supplies related to the terminal illness
    • Bereavement support and respite care for family members
    • Research shows patients on hospice can live longer than patients who do not receive hospice care

  • Who will come visit us?

    You’ll receive intermittent visits from a team of people with expertise in different fields. Your hospice team may include a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, bereavement counselor, hospice aide and volunteers.

  • How often will the hospice team visit?

    The hospice care team works with patients and caregivers to determine the frequency and type of hospice services needed. The number of in-home hospice service visits typically increases as the patient’s illness progresses and their needs increase.

  • Is hospice available 24/7?

    Yes. At Amedisys, hospice care is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, all year long. We have hospice team members on call and can respond within minutes, if needed.

  • Can I keep my doctor if I choose hospice care?

    Yes. You can keep your personal physician while receiving hospice care. Hospice reinforces the relationship between primary care physician and patient, and considers this bond to be a high priority.

  • What if my doctor doesn’t know about hospice?

    Many, but not all, doctors are familiar with hospice. If your doctor doesn’t know about hospice care, contact us. We can share information about hospice services and hospice eligibility requirements and help you decide on next steps. Information is also available from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospice Center.

  • How can I arrange to receive hospice services?

    Anyone can make a referral for hospice care. Feel free to speak with your doctor, minister or a trusted friend when making this decision. You can also contact us to learn more about in-home hospice services and arrange a meeting in your home to discuss our hospice program. We also provide care in local hospitals and some extended stay facilities.

  • What’s the hospice admission process like?

    Once you’ve expressed an interest in learning more about hospice care, one of our team members will contact you to discuss your needs and help determine your eligibility. Next, we’ll contact your doctor to discuss your decision and receive authorization to begin providing the in-home hospice services you’ve chosen. Finally, you’ll sign forms that are similar to the ones that you would sign before receiving any other special medical services.

  • When does hospice care begin?

    Once a referral for hospice care is made, we will contact you within a few hours to schedule the first visit at a time that’s convenient for you. A hospice care team member typically visits the patient within 24 hours. In some situations, it may be possible for hospice services to start sooner.

  • How long can a patient receive hospice care?

    It depends on the patient’s specific needs, but Medicare covers six months of hospice care initially. Care can last longer than six months if a doctor certifies that the patient continues to meet hospice eligibility requirements.

  • What happens if the patient’s condition improves?

    Sometimes with the extra attention that hospice care provides, a patient’s health improves. If a patient’s condition improves or the disease goes into remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice care and returned to regular medical treatment. Likewise, should the patient need to return to hospice in the future, these services can be resumed if the patient is eligible.

  • Is there any special equipment I need or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?

    No. Your hospice care team will help you determine what you need and then assist you in obtaining any special equipment or making any changes in your home.

  • How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

    There’s no set number. One of the first things hospice will do is help you determine the amount of care you need. In addition, hospice staff will make regular visits to your home. We’re available to answer questions, provide support and teach caregivers how to care for their loved one.

  • How difficult is caring for a dying loved one at home?

    It’s never easy to provide end-of-life care for a loved one. Nights can be especially difficult and sometimes seem very long. However, the hospice care team is available 24 hours a day to speak with or visit you if needed. We can teach you what you need to know to care for your loved one. We also provide resources and bereavement support for caregivers and family members.

  • Does someone need to be with the patient at all times?

    No. It is usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. However, we do recommend continual end-of-life care and monitoring in the later stages of hospice.

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