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Home » Community Hospices » About Community Hospices » Hospice Care FAQs

Frequently asked questions about hospice and palliative care

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Select a question:
What is hospice care?
How does hospice care work?
Who provides hospice care?
What services are provided?
Is hospice care expensive?
Where is hospice care provided?
When should you consider hospice care?


Q. What is hospice care?

A. It is a way of caring for patients in the advanced stages of life-limiting illnesses. Hospice care focuses on the patients' quality of life and on providing them and their family members with comfort and support. The goal of hospice care is to provide superior pain and symptom management so that patients spend their last days living in a dignified manner that is most meaningful to them.


Q. How does hospice care work?

A. Typically, family members serve as the primary care givers and, when appropriate, help make decisions for the terminally ill individuals. Members of the hospice staff make regular visits to assess patients and provide additional care or other services.


Q. Who provides hospice care?

A. Hospice care is provided by teams of specially trained professionals and volunteers:

Nurse case managers - under the direction of a physician, nurse case managers provide pain and symptom management using the latest techniques and unique therapies

Home health aides - help patients with their daily needs such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals and more

Social workers - listen, counsel, and provide support concerning legal, social, and financial issues, such as insurance, living wills and food assistance

Chaplains - answer questions, counsel, and provide emotional and spiritual support to patients, their families and loved ones

Grief/bereavement counselors - provide support groups, workshops, individual counseling and other resources including special counseling uniquely geared for youth and children

Volunteers - specially trained to provide companionship and support to patients and family members in a variety of ways, such as running errands for the family and offering loved ones a much- needed break from care giving duties

On call team - available around-the-clock to answer questions, offer advice or to make a necessary visit to patients' homes

Attending Physicians - the physician identified by the patients as having the most significant role in determining or delivering their medical care remains an active part of the hospice process

Hospice medical directors - answer questions patients or families may have regarding hospice medical care, and with the attending physician coordinates medical care, especially when symptoms are difficult to manage

In addition to the core hospice team, we have other specialists that can be integrated into patients' care plans when they will contribute to a patient's ability to maintain his or her independent function for a greater length of time. These specialists are:

Physical therapists
Occupational therapists
Speech/language pathologists


Q. What services are provided?

A. The Interdisciplinary hospice team:

  • manages patients' pain and symptoms
  • assists patients with the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying
  • provides needed drugs, medical supplies, and equipment
  • coaches families on how to care for patients
  • delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed
  • makes short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or caregivers need respite time,
  • provides bereavement care and counseling to surviving families and friends


Q. Is hospice care expensive?

A. No, hospice care is not expensive. Both Medicare and Medicaid provide excellent benefits for hospice, including the cost of all medications related to the hospice diagnosis. Most other insurance programs offer hospice benefits as well.

The Washington Home and Community Hospices is a nonprofit organization that treats all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. This is made possible through the generous support of community organizations and area residents.


Q. Where is hospice care provided?

A. Typically, hospice care is provided in the patients' homes, family members' homes or nursing homes. We also have a 13-bed hospice unit at The Washington Home to help care for patients with physical symptoms that cannot be managed at home.


Q. When should you consider hospice care?

A. When curative therapy is no longer a possibility or is failing to add to the patient's quality of life, hospice care can be considered. Generally, hospice patients have a prognosis of six months or less to live, and agree that their main goals are receiving comfort-oriented care and professional help to resolve important end-of-life emotional, spiritual, and financial issues.

A person should always discuss their goals of care with their physician or healthcare provider to determine if comfort care is an appropriate choice.

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