As Jacob, grandson of Abraham, lay dying, he called his sons together to give them his blessing, drew his feet onto the bed, expired and “was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 49:33) Jacob died as most people wish to die: in his own bed, fully prepared, with final words for the loved ones at his bedside.

The goal of hospice is to help everyone who wishes to have that experience at the end of their days.

Hospice is a special healthcare option for patients and families who are faced with a terminal illness. A multi-disciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, bereavement counselors and volunteers work together to address the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of each patient and family.  The hospice team provides care to patients in their own homes or a home-like setting regardless of the patient’s age.

There are many things to consider when making a decision about hospice. While we understand that everyone’s situation is unique, these three questions are commonly asked:

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What Determines Hospice Eligibility?

Patients are eligible for hospice care when they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less. At that time comfort care and symptom management become the primary focus, and curative treatment is no longer the patient’s choice or option.

When should hospice be called?

Hospice should be called at any time the patient has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. It is appropriate to discuss all of the patient’s care options, including hospice.

Are all hospices the same?

No. “Hospice” is a medical specialty like pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, etc. Each hospice is a different company. All hospices have the same general philosophy but their services may differ. Some hospices are for-profit corporations, while others are not-for-profit organizations. It is your right to request the hospice of your choice if more than one hospice serves your area.

Most hospice patients over 65 qualify for Medicare, which covers one hundred percent of the cost of hospice care. Medicaid and most private insurance plans also cover hospice care.

Some questions to consider for selecting a hospice include:

  • How do they work with hospitals and other organizations or facilities during the course of your loved one’s care?
  • Is the provider Medicare-certified or covered by your personal insurance plan? What sources of payment does the hospice accept for its services, and what (such as medications and medical equipment) does that include? Hospice covers costs only related to the hospice diagnosis.
  • How often do the nurses visit the patient and family?
  • Do they have hospice-affiliated physicians who visit the patient, and if so, how often?
  • Do they provide crisis care, and if so, for how long, and for what qualifying criteria?
  • Do they follow accepted guidelines for pain and symptom management?
  • Do they have expertise in aggressive management for the high acuity patient, and offer treatment for other medical problems, exclusive of the patient’s primary qualifying diagnosis?
  • Do they provide and deliver medications? If so, what is the turn-around time?
  • Do they provide and deliver durable medical equipment and supplies? If so, what is the turn-around time?
  • How do they educate family caregivers about meeting the patient’s needs and what to expect at the end of life?
  • Do they provide grief and bereavement counseling, especially if the relatives are not located in the area?

We Can Help You Find a Hospice Provider

There are several excellent Hospice providers in Central Florida. Please call us at 407-678-9363 for more information and referrals.