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Hospice Care

Skilled professionals serving our patients

Hospice care

Below are some common questions related to hospice care:

Hospice care is specialized clinical care and emotional support that helps reduce suffering for the patient and family near end of life so they can live life to the fullest.

Our staff works with you to define your individual care goals and wishes. We also work with your attending doctor to develop a plan of care that is focused on helping you find comfort and peace. We provide care wherever you live, such as a personal residence, assisted living facility or other care facility.

Our focus is on holistically improving the clinical, emotional and spiritual conditions of patients, as well as their loved ones, while we help them get more out of the days to come.

Our Hospice support team combines years of experience and diverse backgrounds to provide the support you need. It includes nurses, nursing aids, social workers, chaplains, volunteers, etc., that offers emotional, spiritual and clinical support to reduce suffering for our patients and families.

Levels of hospice care

We offer the following levels of hospice care to meet the needs of you and your family, as determined in collaboration with the ExpectCare Hospice Care Team.

1) Home care: Routine home care is standard care given in the patient’s place of residence and provided by the interdisciplinary team, including physicians, nurses, certified nursing aides, chaplains, social workers and trained volunteers. There is no time limit to this type of hospice care. Routine home hospice care will be provided as long as it is believed that the patient will continue to benefit clinically.

2) Respite care: This level of care is designed to give the caregiver a period of rest. Providing care for a loved one can be exhausting, with respite care, the patient typically goes to an in-patient hospice unit for a five-day stay, during which the caregiver can relax and take some time for his/herself.

3) Continuous care: Providing comfort for our patients is critical. And sometimes this means an additional level of nursing care is required. Continuous care was developed for exactly that. We offer continuous care at the patient’s residence during a short-term, temporary crisis when there is a need for constant skilled nursing. This type of care is only provided occasionally and maintains a focus on hospice care.

If you think you or a loved one might benefit from our services, ask your doctor, contact ExpectCare Hospice Care provider or call us at 205-444-0126.

When you’re living with a serious illness, it’s important to find care that supports your needs and goals. Hospice care is a philosophy of care that recognizes a serious illness affects the patient and the patient's loved ones. With the care and support of our interdisciplinary team—including physicians, nurse case managers, certified nursing assistants, chaplains, social workers and trained volunteers—hospice helps alleviate suffering and bring peace and comfort to those who need it most.

Research shows that patients enjoy an improved quality of life, as well as:

  • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Improved symptom and pain management.
  • Potential life extension, which was demonstrated by one study that showed a 29 day increase in life expectancy for hospice patients versus those who did not receive hospice care.
  • Family members of patients receiving hospice care report greater satisfaction with the care experience than family members of patients who do not experience hospice care.

Hospice begins when both the patient or caregivers and the doctor determine it’s the right time. Typically, hospice takes place during the final stages of a serious illness or when normal day-to-day functioning becomes too great of a challenge.

By recognizing the physical signs that indicate that you or a loved one might be ready for hospice care, you can start the conversation with your doctor or your loved ones:

  • Symptoms are affecting your quality of life.
  • You are depressed and anxious.
  • Daily tasks or living alone is no longer manageable.
  • You need more or continued support from your loved ones.

If you think you or a loved one might be ready for hospice care, ask your doctor, contact ExpectCare Hospice Care at 205-444-0126.

In order to receive hospice care, two physicians must confirm your eligibility. This typically includes your attending physician or specialist and the ExpectCare Hospice Care physician.

After it is confirmed that hospice care is the right care for you, one of our interdisciplinary team members will review what you and your loved ones can expect from hospice care. During this time, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the clinical care and psychosocial support available through hospice care. Once the paperwork and review is finalized, your hospice care begins.

The cost of hospice care, including medical equipment and prescriptions related to the terminal illness, is typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans.
If you’d like to know whether or not your insurance includes a hospice benefit, the ExpectCare Hospice team would be happy to assist you. Contact us at 205-444-0126.

Depending on the patient's insurance benefit, the admit process will vary. Only Medicare requires hospice care to be received in the last six months of life, recognizing the patient might outlive that time period and can receive hospice care for longer, given he/she is clinically appropriate.

Who provides hospice care?

At the heart of hospice care is the interdisciplinary team. This team is made up of hospice professionals, including physicians, nurses, certified nursing aides, chaplains, social workers and trained volunteers. Together this team focuses on reducing the emotional and spiritual suffering of the patient and family, as well as meeting the clinical needs of the patient.

What services are included in hospice care?

Hospice is a philosophy of care services focused on the patient and family, provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals:

  • Physicians, including the patient’s physician and hospice physician, collaborate to manage pain and other symptoms of serious illness. This includes prescribing medications, writing the care plan and determining other methods of pain and symptom control.
  • Nurses frequently meet with the patient and family to assess any additional support needs and are the experts at maintaining patient comfort
  • Certified nursing assistants and home health aides provide personal care and support, and help the patient and family with activities of daily living (as outlined at admission).
  • Social workers coordinate community resources and help the patient and family with non-medical concerns. They can help family members mend damaged relationships, plan for the future and ease other emotional difficulties.
  • Chaplains provide spiritual and emotional support, helping patients and families cope with the serious illness and address any questions or concerns about end of life.
  • Bereavement coordinators are available to provide support for the patient and loved ones, helping deal with grief both before the passing and after. Bereavement services are available to those who would like them for up to thirteen months after passing.
  • Trained volunteers are available to provide companionship and emotional support for patients and their families.

In addition, hospice care provides medications, medical equipment and supplies necessary to promote comfort at home or in other hospice settings, as determined by the physicians. Hospice staff is available by phone all day, every day, should a need or question arise.

Is hospice a place the patient goes?

Hospice is a philosophy of care, not necessarily a place of care. Most hospice providers go to the patient to provide clinical care and psych-social support for the patient and family. This might be the patient’s or a loved one’s home, but it could also be an assisted living facility or nursing home.

How does hospice care work with a patient’s current treatments?

In order to receive hospice care, a patient typically must choose to no longer pursue curative treatments. There are circumstances where a patient might be able to receive palliative therapies during hospice care, such as palliative radiation or similar therapies to help manage pain and symptoms.

To better understand your options with treatments and hospice care, talk to your doctor or hospice provider.

What are the benefits of hospice care?

Hospice care places a high value on quality of life for the patient and the family, helping them live a full life. It is a holistic approach to care that provides clinical, emotional and spiritual support that often results in greater satisfaction with care and the end of life experience. Learn more about the benefits hospice care provides here.

How does a patient get hospice care?

As an illness becomes more serious or terminal and patients’ focus changes from curative to quality of life, patients should consider asking their doctor about receiving a hospice care. Keep in mind that a doctor’s referral order is required to receive hospice care.

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Hospice care is specialized care focused on reducing suffering for the patient and the family during end of life, typically in the last year or six months of life. Our interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, nursing aides and trained volunteers provide care and support to patients and families when they need it most.

Palliative care is an additional layer of specialized medical care focused on reducing pain, symptoms and stress for patients with serious illnesses, even as they are continuing curative treatments. A large focus of palliative care is also on having goals of care conversations and completing advance directives, so care wishes are known and documented in case the serious illness should advance.
Palliative care consultations are a great way to understand your illness and available care options, so you can make sure you get all the care you want and none of the care you don’t want.

Does insurance pay for hospice care?

Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, typically cover hospice care and the services provided through it, including prescriptions and necessary medical equipment. An ExpectCare Hospice care team member can help determine a patient’s coverage.

How does hospice care work with home health?

Home health is typically focused on patient rehabilitation and traditional medical management, with less expertise in end-of-life care. The goal of home health is usually to take a patient with high needs and reduce those needs as they recover from an illness or accident.

Hospice is focused on quality of life and comfort for the patient and family. A hospice care team — including physicians, nurses, trained volunteers, chaplains, social workers and nursing assistants — manages pain and symptoms, provides emotional and spiritual counseling and educates the patient and family on the disease prognosis and care options. As part of the Medicare benefit, hospice typically provides medical equipment, beds, medication and other similar medical supplies that will support the patient’s quality of life.

As a home health patient nears end of life, it can be beneficial for hospice care to replace the home health care service.

If you think you or a loved one might benefit from hospice care, ask your doctor, contact ExpectCare Hospice at 205-444-0126.