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Hospice Care
By Peter Ganther

(Page 2 of 2)

One must qualify for hospice care. In most cases, a doctor must have diagnosed the patient as having a terminal illness that is most likely to cause death within six months. The patient can leave at any time. An example of this would be an improvement in the personís condition to the point where they might want to start treating it again. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, pay for hospice care. Many times even those without insurance are still eligible. Costs are covered mostly through donations.

The immediate goal of the hospice team is to develop a ďplan of careĒ for the patient. Before this can happen, the team meets with the patientís personal doctor(s) and the hospice physician to discuss the patientís history, current symptoms, and life expectancy. The team then meets with patient and family members. Available services, the philosophy of hospice, and expectations are considered here. Other topics at this meeting might include comfort and pain levels, equipment and medication needs, support systems, and financial and insurance resources. From these meetings a care plan tailored to meet the patientís specific needs is developed. This plan is reviewed and revised regularly as a patientís condition changes. Typically, counseling and bereavement services are available to family members for a year after their loved oneís death.

According to hospice Foundation of America, the following questions should be asked when selecting a hospice:

Does the hospice serve your area?
Is the hospice licensed (where applicable) and Medicare/Medicaid certified?
Does the hospice provide the services you want/need?
What does the hospice expect from you and your caregiver support system?
Will your insurance plan work with the hospice?
Does the hospice have a support program for caregivers?
Where is needed inpatient or respite care provided?
Is the hospiceís position on resuscitation, hydration and antibiotics consistent with yours?
What out of pocket expenses should you anticipate?
Is there a sliding scale payment plan for services not covered by insurance?

If your loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, this might be a good alternative for you. Your loved oneís comfort will be a priority, and they can pass on peacefully, surrounded by the people they have cherished most. Not only that, the whole family can benefit from the hospice experience through their bereavement counseling. You may learn a little more about death, and, in so doing, learn a little bit more about life.

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