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Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for hospice care?
A person with a life-limiting illness who has been given a prognosis of six months or less from his/her physician, is no longer seeking curative treatment, and desires Hospice support is eligible. Contact the Intake RN at Hospice Partners of the Central Coast (805/782-8608) for more information.
Does a terminally ill person have to fully accept his/her prognosis in order to be a hospice patient?
No. Ambivalence is normal and acceptance is a process. Hospice never takes a person's hope away. Hospice staff will help patients and their families redefine hope as they begin to accept their death. For example, hope may mean staying well enough to attend an important event or it may mean living and dying without pain. However, the physician must have discussed the prognosis with the patient and the patient must understand and desire Hospice services.
If a person is receiving radiation for pain, can he/she go on hospice?
When cure is no longer an option, Hospice provides treatment for comfort reasons. This is called palliative care. If a patient is receiving radiation treatment, we will wait until that course of treatment is completed before admitting the patient to Hospice. Once in the program, if a patient should develop symptoms that would be best managed with radiation, we will work with the radiation oncologist to develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Isn't calling hospice like giving up?
No. First of all, the patient's primary doctor has to estimate a prognosis of six months or less. This prognosis is his/her best guess but it may not be accurate. If a patient stabilizes, improves or has a remission, he/she will be "graduated", or go off the hospice program. The focus of hospice care is not so much about dying as it is about attending to the needs of living. Hospice serves to support quality of life by helping families adjust to and cope with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges of a life threatening illness.
Does one have to have cancer to be a hospice patient?
No. Hospice is for any person with any disease or illness who has a life expectancy of six months or less.
My mother is terminally ill but she just can't make the call to hospice. What Can I Do?
Calling hospice for the first time can be an overwhelming and frightening task. Sometimes people jump directly from that telephone call to the thought of their death and they are unable to recognize all the help and support hospice offers in between. It can be helpful to break down this task for people. One approach may be, "let's set up an appointment for the hospice RN to come out and just explain how the program works. Then after she leaves you can think about it and decide later." Often just meeting the RN and getting accurate information can dispel most of the fears.
Does hospice provide 24 hour care for patients who live alone?
No. Hospice Partners provides intermittent visits. If a patient lives alone and does not have family or friends who can take on the responsibility of primary care provider, private in-home caregivers are available for hire or the patient can move to a facility such as a Board and Care or Skilled Nursing Facility when he/she is no longer able to be alone.
Who pays for Hospice Care?
Medicare, Medi-Cal and most private insurance plans provide benefits for hospice services, provided certain medical and eligibility requirements are met. Hospice Partners' staff will work with your insurance company to coordinate coverage. In cases where individuals are uninsured or under-insured, community contributions allow Hospice Partners to offer financial assistance based on need. Because of the ongoing generosity of our community, we are able to say that admission to the Hospice Partners is based on need rather than on the ability to pay. Hospice Partners receives no reimbursement for our bereavement services, which are provided free of charge.