ARTICLES / General / Hospice
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By Peter Ganther
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
Does the hospice provide the services you want/need?
What does the hospice expect from you and your caregiver
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.