Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice Care

When should a decision about entering hospice be made and who should make it?

At any time during a life-limiting illness, it is appropriate to discuss your options, including hospice. By law the decision belongs to the patient.

Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping an all-out effort to “beat” their disease. Hospice of Marion County team members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss health care options. Anyone with a prognosis of six months or less is appropriate for hospice care. The earlier a patient is admitted, the better we can provide a full scope of services and help the family maintain a good quality of life. Our pre-hospice program, Transitions, is an appropriate alternative for those with a life expectancy of one year, who may not feel ready for hospice and are still seeking aggressive treatment such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

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

Patients and families should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician or other healthcare professional. However, a physician is not the only one who can make a referral. Anyone can call hospice—the patient, a family member, clergy or even a friend. Following an initial phone conversation, the admissions team provides required follow-up to determine if the patient is eligible for hospice, and in most cases, care can begin within 24 hours. Call the admissions office at (352) 873-7415 to discuss your options. Our admissions nurses will contact your physician if you wish and make all necessary arrangements for your care.

Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery leave the program and return to active treatment?

Yes. If improvement occurs and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy. A discharged patient can return to Hospice of Marion County care when or if it is needed later.

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of childbirth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge in pain control and symptom management during the dying process as a natural part of life.

Do I have to be living in a private home to receive hospice services?

While most hospice services are delivered in the home, some patients live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residences of friends or relatives, hospitals or one of our Hospice Houses located throughout Marion County. The only requirement is that the patient lives in Marion County for at-home care. Our Hospice Houses have no residency requirement and have served patients from all over the country.

Who pays for hospice care?

Hospice of Marion County services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance and HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations). However, no eligible patient is ever denied care because of inability to pay. Charitable care is made possible by ongoing financial support through support of the Hospice of Marion, local fundraisers and our five thrift stores.

I’ve never cared for a terminally-ill person before. How will I know what to do?

One of the first things Hospice of Marion County teams do is prepare a care plan addressing the individualized needs of patients. They work with families to teach them how to care for their loved one, will visit regularly and are always available to answer questions. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can feel long, lonely and scary. Hospice of Marion County is staffed 24/7 and are available by phone at any hour. Nurses, family support counselors and chaplains make night visits as needed by the family. We are always a phone call away.

What do caregivers do when unexpected medical crisis occur?

Nurses are available 24/7 by calling either our main number (352) 873-7400 or a specific team number provided by the care team and posted next to the phone. Family members are instructed in advance on how to respond to a crisis.

What about hospice care for children?

Hospice of Marion County cares for patients of all ages. We have cared for those from three days old to 104 years of age.

Does hospice provide help to the family after the death of a patient?

Hospice of Marion County is available to the family for up to 13 months after the death of a loved one to provide bereavement support. Individual counseling and support groups are also available to anyone in the community who is grieving regardless of whether they have used hospice services.

Specialized grief support for young people is offered through our Camp Mariposa program, which helps them learn coping skills and begin to heal. Like all Hospice of Marion bereavement support, these groups are offered as a free community service thanks to donor support.

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