Who decides when hospice care begins?

The good news about deciding when hospice care begins is that it's all up to you! It's a very personal decision that you can make on your own, or with your loved ones by your side. You don't even have to wait for your doctor to begin the conversation, but it's certainly encouraged that you discuss the option of hospice with your doctor, if you have the opportunity.

Hospice is an option to be considered whenever you have a serious illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live. By law, patients must choose hospice care themselves, but if patients are no longer able to choose, the closest relatives or designated responsible person(s) may make that decision, using a patient's Advance Directives where applicable. 


We know that the decision to begin hospice care can be a difficult one. Please know that your hospice team can help you through the process. You’re not alone.



What is a hospice referral?

Referring someone to hospice simply means that you, or someone on your behalf, can request a no-obligation, private medical assessment to see if hospice is a fit for you. Anyone can refer someone to hospice. 


* You can refer yourself to hospice.

* You can refer a loved one to hospice.

* Your doctor can refer you to hospice.

* If you’re in the hospital, the social worker or discharge planner can refer you to hospice. 


When you call a hospice, usually a hospice nurse will come to wherever you are – including a hospital or nursing home – to ask you questions about your health.  After the assessment meeting that takes about an hour, the hospice intake team will speak further with your doctor and review all your information with their hospice medical director.


Once both your doctor and the hospice medical director certify that you’re hospice eligible, you’ll sign consent papers and then you’ll be officially under hospice care. The next step is getting the equipment you need (such as a bed or oxygen) delivered to you. Next, an admissions nurse will visit you, review all your medications with the doctor and order them for delivery to you.  From this point on, hospice re-orders your medications and has them delivered to you on schedule. If you like, your hospice nurse also fills your pill box for you each time it needs to be done. 


Is it time for me to enroll in hospice?

If you have a serious illness and a cure is no longer effective, or isn’t adding to the quality of your life, it may be time to consider if hospice care is right for you.  Please feel free to call your community hospice to have a private conversation about your options – there’s never an obligation or cost to you for a confidential discussion.


What if I start hospice and change my mind?

You can discontinue hospice care at any time by telling your hospice nurse or calling them and letting them know that you want to stop hospice service. They'll give you a statement to complete to revoke your hospice enrollment and then they'll come and collect the medical equipment we delivered to you. If your situation changes, you can re-elect hospice care at any time that you’re eligible.

Studies show that women and men who choose hospice care can live an average of 30 days longer than those who don’t.  If your condition improves and you no longer need or want hospice services, they’ll discharge you from hospice care.  You can return to hospice care at any time that you’re eligible for services again.  


Decades of experience has taught us that every person has unique needs and desires at the end of life. This is your journey, your life to live, and your choice to make – beginning with which hospice provider you want to walk this journey with you. 



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Tel: 202-966-3720

Fax: 240-839-3391

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