Frequently Asked Questions

Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?

Individuals and their family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends.

Man taking pillsWill I have my own hospice team and how often will they visit?

Every person receiving hospice has access to a hospice volunteer, registered nurse, social worker, home health aide and chaplain. This is known as the interdisciplinary team. For each person and family, the interdisciplinary team writes a care plan to make sure all concerned receive the care they need.

Typically, a full-time registered hospice nurse provides care to about a dozen different families. Social workers usually work with about twice that number. If needed, home health aides, who provide personal care, will visit most frequently.

All visits, however, are based on the needs described in the care plan and the client’s condition during the course of illness. The frequency of volunteer visits and spiritual care is often dependent upon requests and the availability of these services. Travel requirements and other factors may cause some variation in how many persons each hospice staff serves.

24 hour serviceIs hospice available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

Hospice care is available ‘on call’ after WesleyLife Hospice's administrative office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. 

Can I be cared for by hospice if I reside in a community providing long-term care?

Hospice services can be provided to a person with a life-limiting illness wherever they live. This means a person living in a community providing long-term care can receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, home health aides, chaplains, social workers and volunteers, along with other care and services provided at their community. The hospice team and community staff will work together to create a care plan that addresses the needs of the individual and their loved ones.

Can a person receiving hospice benefits who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

Certainly. If a person's condition improves or disease seems to be in remission, that individual can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged individual should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.

What does the hospice sign-up process involve?

One of the first things WesleyLife Hospice will do is contact the individual's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for their patient at this time. The individual seeking hospice benefits will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.

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

WesleyLife Hospice professionals will assess your needs, recommend any equipment and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses. In general, hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, comfortable and safe as possible.

Woman receiving care

Must someone be with the person receiving hospice care at all times?

In the early weeks of care, it’s usually not necessary for someone to be with the person all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of individuals is the fear of dying alone, hospice generally recommends someone be there continuously. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, WesleyLife Hospice has volunteers to assist with errands, and provide a break and time away for primary caregivers.

What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based clients?

WesleyLife Hospice clients are cared for by a team consisting of a hospice volunteer, registered nurse, social worker, home health aide, and chaplain (also known as the interdisciplinary team). This team works with the client's physician. Each individual on the team provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise and the client's needs and wishes. In addition, WesleyLife Hospice provide medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the terminal illness.

Is hospice care covered by insurance?

Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in Iowa, and by most private insurance providers. To be sure of coverage, families should, of course, check with their employer or health insurance provider.

If an individual is eligible for Medicare, will there be any additional expense to be paid?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services for a life-limiting illness. Hospice care also supports the family and loved ones of the person through a variety of services. This benefit covers almost all aspects of hospice care with little expense to the patient or family.

If an individual is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?

WesleyLife Hospice staff will assist families in finding out whether their loved one is eligible for any insurance coverage. If an individual does not have coverage and does not have the financial means to pay for all or part of their care, Wesley Hospice will provide care with the assistance of charitable giving from others. 

holding handsWhat does hospice do to keep people comfortable?
Many client's may have pain and other serious symptoms as illness progresses. Hospice staff receives special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort and distress. Because keeping the client comfortable and pain-free is an important part of hospice care, hospice staff use ways to measure how comfortable the client is during the course of their hospice care. Hospice staff works with the client's physician to make sure that medication, therapies and procedures are designed to achieve the goals outlined in their patient’s care plan. The care plan is reviewed frequently to make sure any changes and new goals are in the plan.

What role does the hospice volunteer serve?
Hospice volunteers are generally available to provide different types of support to clients and their loved ones, including running errands, preparing light meals, staying with a client to give family members a break, and lending emotional support and companionship to clients and family members.

What if I choose hospice and then live more than six months?

Hospice care does not automatically end after six months. Medicare and most other insurers will continue to pay for hospice care as long as a physician certifies that the patient continues to have a limited life expectancy.

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Care Partners Quarterly Newsletter

Care Partners is a WesleyLife Hospice clinical newsletter for physicians and members of the medical community. 

Issue 3, Nov/Dec/Jan 2016

Issue 4, Feb/Mar/Apr 2016

Vol. 18, Issue 1, May/June/July 2016