Hospice and You


 As your treatment goal has shifted from cure to comfort and you and your doctor have chosen hospice care, we want you to know that we are here to help you live your remaining days in comfort, peace, and dignity. Hospice will neither hasten death, nor prolong life.

We pledge our support to you and your family. We recognize you as the one in control of your life and look to you for guidance in planning your care. We will support your decisions and choices to the best of our ability and resources.

You and your family are the most important members of the hospice team. Everyone's opinions and concerns are important no matter how insignificant they may seem. Families and patients support one another through loving care and honest communication with each other and the Hospice team.

The purpose of hospice is to provide comfort and support to you when diagnosed with a terminal illness and limited life expectancy, as estimated by your physician. This care, also, includes your family and caregivers. Comfort care includes many different areas, for example:

1. Physical care: pain and symptom control.
2. Supportive psychosocial and spiritual care.
3. Medical management of the hospice diagnosis.
4. Supplies, equipment, and medications related to the hospice diagnosis.

This care can be provided in the patient’s “home”, which includes the Hospice House, a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or the patient's or family's home. Supplies may include wound care and incontinent supplies that relate to the terminal illness.

Medicare pays for routine home care, continuous care at home, respite care for 5 days and general inpatient care. Inpatient levels of care need to be provided in a contracted facility or the Hospice House. Many insurances and Medicaid cover hospice care similar to Medicare. (Room and board is not part of the Medicare Hospice Benefit for residential care in the Hospice House, and is not paid by Medicare.)

Chemotherapy, radiation, blood transfusions, physical therapy, etc. are treatments that require prior approval from the hospice team to determine if they will be beneficial for the patient’s comfort, not a curative treatment. This determination is based on the patient’s condition and the hospice’s philosophy. Medicare allows hospice to charge 5 percent co-pay for medications. It is the policy of Hospice of Southern Kentucky not to do so.

In 1990, congress passed the Patient Self-Determination Act, which requires all health care institutions receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds to ask patients on admission if they have initiated Advanced Directives. Advanced Directives allow a patient a voice in his/her future, when they are no longer able to participate in decision making. The living will is the document that stipulates the exact care the patient does and does not want for end-of-life care. The healthcare power of attorney clarifies the patient-appointed decision maker for healthcare decisions, when the patient cannot participate. These patient directives can spare the family the burden of making significant decisions in a difficult time.