What is hospice care?
Hospice is really a philosophy of care. It is our mission to treat the person, rather than the disease — and focus on quality of life. Hospice care helps people with life-limiting illness live their final months in comfort and dignity. Hospice surrounds the patient and family with a team of specialists who offer medical assistance combined with emotional and spiritual support.
What services does hospice provide?
- Physicians (the patient’s own physician and the hospice physicians, who are specialist in controlling pain and other symptoms of serious illness) prescribe medications and other methods of pain and symptom control.
- Nurses are experts at maintaining patient comfort. They assess the patient frequently and help family members provide the necessary support.
- Certified nurse assistants provide personal care and help the patient and family with activities of daily living. They also provide companionship and valuable emotional support.
- 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 help patients and families cope with spiritual questions and concerns at the end of life, either directly or by coordinating services with the patient’s and family’s spiritual advisors.
- Bereavement coordinators help patients and families deal with grief. Grief support services continue for at least one year after the death of a hospice patient.
- Volunteers provide companionship and emotional support in various ways.
- Therapists and counselors provide dietary advice, and physical, occupational or speech therapies as needed to support patient’s plan of care.
Hospice also provides medications, medical equipment and supplies necessary to promote comfort at home or in other hospice settings.
Who pays for hospice?
Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies cover most hospice services. We will work with you to contact your insurance company to learn about individual coverage and any co-payments.
When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Sooner than later. End-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, but it is wise for family members to communicate their wishes long before it becomes a concern. These conversations can greatly reduce stress when it is time for hospice services, and help ensure that patients make an educated decision that includes input from family members and loved ones.
Is hospice just for cancer patients?
No, hospice is appropriate for any patient with a terminal illness and a prognosis of less than six months. Cancer, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, liver disease, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s and dementia are on the short list of ailments our patients have.
When is the best time to start hospice care?
Most patients and families who receive hospice care say they wish they had known about it earlier, and that they really needed the help and support much sooner than they received it. Experts agree that at least two to three months of care is optimal and can help increase the quality of life for the patient and the emotional support for family and loved ones. If you think that your family member or the person you care for could benefit from pain or symptom management, emotional and spiritual support – or any of the other services hospice can offer – ask you physician if the timing might be right.
What if I choose hospice than live for more than six months?
Hospice care does not automatically end after six months. Medicare and most other insurers will continue to pay for hospice care as long as a physician certifies that the patient continues to have a limited life expectancy.
How can hospice care help me and my family?
Many families have little or no experience caring for someone who is dying. The hospice team can help you and your family or loved ones in many ways. For example, the hospice team provides comfort care to relieve pain and symptoms, offers emotional and spiritual support, teaches specific care techniques, arranges for necessary equipment, and answers questions you or your family may have.
When is hospice care available to me?
The hospice team will talk to you and your family about how often you need regular visits and then schedule them. The hospice team itself does not provide 24-hour care but can help make arrangements if that is what you need. Hospice care includes access to a registered nurse who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergency situations.
Do I have to live at St. John’s to have Home Health or Hospice care?
No. St. John’s serves all of Yellowstone County, so whether you live in your own home, an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility, we would be happy to serve you.