Most families receive hospice care at some point. Even though hospice is common, there are many misconceptions about how it works and available services.
When hospice care is necessary, families often feel overwhelmed or scared about these decisions. The heightened emotions can complicate the situation, making it hard for loved ones to distinguish fact from myths.
The best thing you can do to optimize the outcome of hospice services is to talk to an industry expert about your options. The truth is that hospice can be an invaluable resource to help both patients and family members.
Today we are breaking down the truth about hospice, helping you avoid some of the common misconceptions we encounter in the industry.
Myth #1: Hospice Means You are Giving Up
Since hospice services are designed for patients with terminal illnesses, there is a misunderstanding that receiving hospice means the person is giving up.
The reality is that hospice helps each person live the fullest in their final days. When a patient is facing a life-limiting diagnosis, the medical care and emotional support available through hospice can change their experience.
Ultimately, the goal is to design a hospice plan that improves the patient’s quality of life while also supporting caregivers and family members.
Myth #2: Once You Start Hospice, You Can’t Stop
Hospice is recommended when a patient has a life-limiting illness and the medical team decides to stop curative treatments.
Just because you choose to start hospice care doesn’t mean that you will always receive these services. You have the option to stop hospice care at any time.
For example, there are situations where a patient’s health improves, so they decide to explore the possibilities for curative treatment again. Then, if hospice is needed again in the future, you can reapply for the services.
Myth #3: Hospice Starts When There Are Only a Few Days or Weeks Left
While hospice is an important service during the last days or weeks, it doesn’t mean that you should wait until this timeframe before reaching out to a hospice team.
Beginning hospice services earlier can improve the person’s quality of life in the upcoming months. Generally, hospice is recommended when a person has been told they have 6 months left. But the specific timeline varies depending on the patient’s needs.
Myth #4: Hospice is Only About Medical Treatments
While hospice often focuses on pain and symptom management, there are many other services to help the patient physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Each patient receives a personalized treatment plan, with case-by-case considerations to select the specific services required.
As the patient or a family member with power of attorney for a loved one, you always have the right to request or refuse specific services. We encourage patients and families to take a proactive approach in designing a hospice plan that works best for your unique needs.
Myth #5: Hospice Means Leaving Home
One misconception about hospice is that receiving services means that the patient will need to move to a hospital or care facility. However, many people want to stay in the comfort of their own home, so they are hesitant to receive hospice since they assume it means they will be moving.
Hospice isn’t a location. Instead, it’s a method of care to help a person with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. These services can be administered from home if that’s the patient’s preference.
The flexibility of hospice care means that you can receive these services in any location you desire. The goal is to help the patient feel as comfortable as possible while ensuring services are most effectively provided.
Myth #6: You Must Sign a DNR
Even though you aren’t seeking curative treatment while receiving hospice care, it doesn’t mean that life-saving measures are no longer available. Some patients mistakenly assume that they must sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) when they start receiving hospice services.
Rest assured, knowing that a DNR is not a requirement to receive hospice. You have the freedom to work with your hospice provider to design a plan that supports your care and comfort in the way you desire.
Myth #7: Hospice Requires a Doctor’s Referral
It’s common for a doctor to be the referral when someone needs to seek hospice care. But this referral can come from anyone who identifies the need.
For example, if a family member thinks that a loved one can benefit from hospice, they can make the referral. After this referral is received, the next step is to meet with a doctor to qualify for available coverage.
Myth #8: Hospice Care and Palliative Care are the Same Services
There are many similarities between palliative care and hospice care. For example, both types of care focus on alleviating the patient’s discomfort and pain while enhancing the person’s quality of life as much as possible.
But a person doesn’t need to have a limited timeframe or a life-limiting illness to receive palliative care. For example, someone might receive palliative care for a short time after having surgery or when recovering from an injury.
Patients can receive palliative care and curative treatments simultaneously.
On the other hand, hospice care is intended for patients who are no longer receiving curative treatments.
Myth #9: We Can’t Afford Hospice Care
The anticipated costs of medical care and in-home services make many people think that they can’t afford to pay for these services. But don’t let the cost of care stop you from using the available services.
The truth is that families pay minimal out-of-pocket expenses. Hospice benefits are paid through Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance companies. So, these services are available for people of all income levels and financial situations.
Myth #10: It’s Hard to Qualify for Hospice Coverage
Specific requirements need to be met for your hospice services to be covered through private insurance or Medicaid/Medicare. If you meet these requirements, then the provider will pay for the care that each patient deserves.
Hospice coverage requirements include:
- A primary care physician and doctor certify that the patient’s life expectancy is 6 months or less, and they are diagnosed with a terminal illness
- The patient is no longer receiving curative treatment for the illness and must sign a form indicating they choose hospice as an alternative to curative therapies.
Myth #11: Hospice Services are Only for the Patient
While most hospice services focus on the patient’s quality of life, complementary services are also available to support the family’s needs. This service can offset the burden on caregivers and close family members who are caring for the loved one.
Once the patient is gone, hospice care continues to help family members with grief support, bereavement, funeral arrangements, and other issues the family might be facing.
Customized Hospice Care Services
Whether you need hospice care or are exploring services for a loved one, our team at Avatar Healthcare offers the full-service solutions you need. Our experienced team can help with a range of care solutions, including home health, hospice, and personal home care services.