Hospice provides care to terminally-ill patients who are in the final stages of their lives and to patients in the progressive stages of a life-threatening illness. The goal of hospice care is to maintain high quality of life by enabling patients to live as comfortably and as pain free as possible, preferably in the comfort of home. The goal is to control symptoms, not to cure disease.
The hospice philosophy is holistic, family-centered, and home-centered. Hospice focuses on the person, not the illness. It treats the family, not the individual. It is a cost-effective alternative to institutional care. Hospice aims to maximize the quality of life, not the duration of life.
Hospice provides an individualized care plan for each patient and family. It is designed and managed by a multidisciplinary health care team. The team can consist of a physician, a registered nurse, home care aides, social workers, counselors, and volunteers. They provide social, emotional, spiritual, and psychological support, as well as medical care. Care is provided in the home, except in special circumstances, where in-patient care may be necessary on a temporary basis.
All terminally ill patients in the final stages of life, and often patients in the progressive stages of a life-threatening illness, can receive hospice care. This includes people of all ages, including children, the insured, and the uninsured. Patients and families in need of hospice care should contact local hospice providers as soon as possible to learn about the availability of services and coverage for them.
Patients must contact their insurance providers to determine exact coverage. Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies and health management organizations cover hospice costs. Most private insurance companies cover a percentage of the cost of hospice, but they offer different plans with different options for hospice coverage. Many hospice providers accept all patients without regard to their ability to pay. Contact the hospice providers directly for more information.