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FAQ: What is Hospice Care?

| Date Posted: 11/1/2022

Most people don’t think about hospice care until they are faced with a difficult decision to make — determining how to proceed with the most appropriate care for a loved one who has a serious illness and is approaching the end of life. At that time, it can be confusing and overwhelming to figure out all you need to know about this type of care. During Hospice Month in November, we are working to answer some of the most common questions about hospice care.


FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care


What is hospice care?

Hospice care focuses on giving a person who is approaching the end of life as much quality of life as possible for their remaining days. It also helps family members cope with the patient’s illness and impending death. In addition to pain management and symptom control, it is also designed to help patients and family members deal with the emotional and spiritual aspects of dying.


Who can get hospice care?

Hospice care is typically an option for people who have a life expectancy of 6 months or less due to a serious illness, such as cancer, heart failure or dementia, among many other terminal conditions. People may be enrolled in hospice care if there are no longer treatments available to cure or control their illness or if they choose not to continue with treatment.


Does a person get medical treatment with hospice care?

Yes, once a patient chooses to stop curative medical care, they may still see their physician, who remains involved and assists with comfort care targeted at managing the symptoms of the patient’s terminal illness. Services may include care for the relief of pain and other symptoms, other types of physical assistance, help with advance care planning and emotional and spiritual support.


How long can a person be under hospice care?

Hospice care is usually not started unless doctors think a person has six months or less to live. Some people may believe that they should not opt for hospice care until the final days or weeks of a person’s life, but hospice providers and staff can provide much-needed care well before then. Hospice care can greatly enhance a patient’s life, regardless of the stage of a terminal illness.


Where do you get hospice care?

Hospice care can be provided at home, in an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility, or even in FirstHealth’s Inpatient Hospice House. Many people prefer to receive care at home so they can live out their final days in their own surroundings, with family and friends by their sides.


How can I make sure I get hospice care if I want it?

Some people are concerned that by the time a decision like this needs to be made, they may not be of sound mind to do it. That’s why it’s important to express any wishes you have regarding hospice care, as well as other end-of-life decisions, in an advance care directive. This is a document that spells out your wishes in advance so others don’t have to make decisions for you. In addition to creating and signing this document, it’s important to share your wishes with loved ones and to make sure your doctor and family members have a copy of the signed directive.


How is hospice paid for?

Hospice accepts all insurance, including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and other private insurance. At FirstHealth, no one is turned away due to the inability to pay for Hospice services.


About FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care

Whether you or a loved one may be on a path of a serious illness or grief, FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care surrounds you with a comprehensive circle of expert care and support. For more information, call (910) 715-6000.

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