When should someone have hospice?
At any time during a terminal illness, all options for care should be considered, including hospice. By law, the decision for hospice is the patient's decision. When the decision is made to stop aggressive medical treatment to beat the disease, hospice is appropriate.
The hospice team is available to discuss your options with you and help you develop an individualized plan to meet your needs. Should you choose hospice, a physician (our medical director can assist if you wish) must certify you for hospice. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans cover all the costs of hospice care.
What services are provided by Hospice?
In addition to providing a dedicated team and skilled medical care, we provide the following:
- Medical equipment
- Medical supplies
- Medication related to the terminal illness
- Respite care
- Continuous care during times of crisis
- Acute inpatient care for symptom management
Is the six-month rule a myth?
Yes. Patients may continue hospice care for as long as they meet hospice criteria. No patient that is appropriate for hospice will be dismissed at six months. In fact research has shown that in some medical conditions, hospice care increases the life span. Occasionally, a patient may remain on hospice for one to two years.
Will you just sedate my loved one with lots of medicine?
Our primary concern is to keep our patients as symptom-free and pain-free as possible. This is accomplished with a variety of different medications. Heavy sedation is usually not required. If, however, one's pain is extremely severe, heavier medication may be used if the patient or family wishes. The goal of hospice is to meet your needs, your way.
Will I need to change doctors?
Although Memorial Hermann Hospice has a medical director who guides each patient's care, your own personal physician may continue to serve as your attending physician.
Will the nurse stay 24 hours a day?
You will receive visits from the hospice nurse regularly; however 24-hour care is the responsibility of the family or personal care facility. A registered nurse is on call 24 hours a day for symptom control, questions and concerns. A nurse will come to your home any time during the day or night for crisis care.
What happens if I get better?
We will happily discharge you to your family physician. If a patient shows signs of recovery or if the condition seems to be in remission, patients together with their physicians can choose to be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive medical treatment. If the patient should later need hospice care, Medicare and most insurance plans allow coverage for this purpose.