Learn more about us and about the details of hospice care

Some of your Questions:

Q. What is hospice?

Hospice care is a Medicare benefit that provides comfort and pain management for anyone with a six-month prognosis. Care will be provided as long as the patient remains eligible.

Q. What does hospice provide?

Hospice care includes a complement of benefits for eligible patients, related to the diagnosis including clinical services, durable medical equipment (like a bed or wheelchair), medical supplies (like wound care), and medications. The clinical services involves our physicians, nurses, home health aides, medical social workers and chaplains. We also have volunteers available to provide additional support.

Q. When should a decision about receiving care from Hospice of the West be made - and who should make it?

At any time during a life-limiting illness, it's appropriate to discuss all of a patient's care options, including hospice. By law the decision belongs to the patient or their designated proxy. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping aggressive efforts to "beat" the disease. Hospice of the West staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and always available to discuss them with patients and families.

Q. May I still use my regular doctor?

Your primary care physician continues to be an integral part of your care. Our team collaborates and communicates with your MD while you receive care from Hospice of the West. Our team continues to communicate with your primary care physician while you receive our care.

Q. What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?

Most physicians know about hospice. Patients and families should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends. If your physician wants more information about hospice, it is available from the National Council of Hospice Professionals Physician Section, medical societies, state hospice organizations, or the National Hospice Helpline, 1-800-658-8898. In addition, physicians and all others can also obtain information on hospice from the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Social Security Administration.

Q. Will I still be able to make my own decisions regarding my care?

Yes, you and your family are in charge of your care.

Q. Will my advance directives be honored by Hospice of the West?

Yes, it is your right to choose your advance directives. We do not require a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, and we will review all options with you.

Q. What does the Hospice of the West admission process involve?

One of the first things Hospice of the West will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient at this time. (Hospice of the West has medical staff available to help patients who have no physician.) The patient will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital. The "hospice election form" states that the patient understands that the care is palliative (aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.

Q. Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

Certainly. If the patient's condition improves and the illness seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from Hospice of the West and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and other insurers will allow coverage for this purpose.

Q. What will happen if I outlive my prognosis?

We continue to provide the same care for you as long as you remain eligible for Hospice of the West’s services. You will not be given less service regardless of how long you are in our care, and Hospice of the West will never charge you for our care. Some people live longer than their original prognosis once their pain and symptoms are under control.

Q. What specific assistance does Hospice of the West provide home-based patients?

Just like patients who reside at a facility, home-based patients are cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, certified nursing assistants, clergy, therapists, and volunteers - and each provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, Hospice of the West provides medications, supplies, equipment, and hospital services related to the life-limiting illness.

Q. Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before Hospice of the West begins providing care?

Hospice of the West will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the illness progresses. In general Hospice of the West will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, clean and safe as possible.

Q. How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

There's no set number. One of the first things Hospice of the West will do is to prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed by the patient. Hospice of the West staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer medical questions, provide support, and teach caregivers.

Q. Must someone be with the patient at all times?

In the early weeks of care, it's usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, Hospice of the West generally recommends someone be there continuously. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, Hospice of the West provides volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers. While no one from Hospice of the West will move into your home, we will work with you to establish a frequency of visits from your Hospice of the West team members that meets your unique needs.

Q. Is caring for the patient at home the only place Hospice of the West can deliver care?

No. Hospice of the West provides care wherever a patient calls home, be it a private residence, nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, retirement community, hotel, etc.

Q. How does Hospice of the West "manage pain"?

Hospice of the West believes in the concept of ‘total pain' as defined by Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement.  This concept recognizes that pain is not simply physical, but also encompasses social, spiritual, and psychological aspects.  As such, our entire team addresses these aspects that may be affecting a patient's comfort.  Our doctors and nurses are up-to-date on the latest medications and treatment modalities used for pain and symptom relief.  Our social workers, chaplains, and counselors attend to the non-physical causes of pain and suffering.

Q. What is Hospice of the West's success rate in battling pain?

Very high. Using some combination of medications, counseling and therapies, almost every patient can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.

Q. Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?

Usually not. It is the goal of Hospice of the West to have the patient as pain-free and alert as possible. By constantly consulting with the patient, Hospice of the West has been very successful in reaching this goal.

Q. Is Hospice of the West affiliated with any religious organization?

No. While some churches and religious groups have started their own hospices, our hospice serves a broad community and does not require patients to adhere to, nor do we promote, any particular set of beliefs.

Q. Does Hospice of the West provide any help to the family after a patient passes away?

Hospice of the West provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Hospice of the West sponsors bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses.

Q. Who pays for Hospice of the West’s services?

You pay nothing…ever. Hospice of the West’s care is fully covered under Medicare, Medicaid, and many commercial insurance benefits. We do not charge you any out-of-pocket expenses for your care, such as deductibles, co-pays, or co-insurance. We pay for 100% of your care, including all of your medications, medical equipment and supplies related to the illness we are treating. We also strive to provide our services free of charge to patients and families that have no health insurance or other financial resources.

Q. Do you accept donations?

We do NOT require donations to support the services we provide directly. We ask that you consider donating to the Journey Health Foundation to support programs such as:

  • Last Wishes
  • Groceries and Utilities Bills for Families in Need
  • Clinical needs unrelated to hospice services
  • Public Education

You may mail donations to our office and we will forward those donations directly to the Journey Health Foundation. You may also contribute donations directly to the Journey Health Foundation by clicking here. When contributing, please indicate Hospice of the West so that these funds can be applied to our patients and their families. The Journey Health Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation managed by a volunteer Board of Directors. All donations will be acknowledged by the Foundation and are 100% tax deductible. The Foundation notifies families and caregivers of memorial gifts.

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