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Choosing a Hospice


What is hospice care?  

Hospice focuses on caring, not curing and in most cases care is provided in the patient's home. Hospice care also is provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.  Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness. Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations.


How does hospice care work? 


Typically, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make decisions for the terminally ill individual. Members of the hospice staff make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other services. Hospice staff is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  (


All hospice providers are not the same.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask when choosing a hospice:


  • How long have you been in operation? 

  • How many patients do you serve? 

  • Are you Medicare certified? What forms of insurance do you take?

  • How do you measure and track quality? 

  • What is the admission process? 

  • Can I keep my Primary Care Physician? 

  • What is the average number of visits Hospice Aides and Nurses will make per week?

  • What is your response time after hours and weekends? 

  • Who are your Medical Directors and how will they be involved? 

  • Whom do I call with questions, comments, or concerns? 

  • Do you have other programs that will benefit me? 


What is Palliative Care?


Palliative Care is designed to help you and your loved one

live with a serious and chronic illness.  Palliative care can be provided along with curative treatment and does not depend on prognosis, (which is different than hospice care.)


Palliative Care Programs help manage and relieve symptoms often associated with a chronic illness such as fatigue, anxiety, shortness of breath, nausea and depression. The organized services available through palliative care may be helpful to individuals of any age to assess and address general discomfort and disabilities impacting quality of life.

Palliative care can be provided in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient palliative care clinics and certain other specialized clinics, or at home. MedicareMedicaid, and insurance policies may cover palliative care. Veterans may be eligible for palliative care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Private health insurance might pay for some services. Health insurance providers can answer questions about what they will cover.

Patients with illnesses such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, or cancer can benefit from palliative care and have improved quality of life. A trained team of professionals work with your physician(s) to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support and work with you to make a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Your palliative care team can work with you and your family to:

  • Consider the pros and cons of various treatment options

  • Provide education on advance directives and help you speak with your doctor about questions you may have including life-support treatments

  • Make your wishes clear to family members and/or other caregivers

A key component in choosing any type of program is to find a provider that you and your loved one are comfortable and able to communicate with.


For additional information on Hospice and Palliative Care providers in your area go to

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