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Hospice is a team of health care professionals that provide end of life care for those with a certified six month or less prognosis that are no longer seeking aggressive treatment for their condition. The multidisciplinary team includes medical directors, registered nurses, CNAs, social workers, spiritual care coordinators, and volunteers and services are provided where the person is living. The four levels of care for hospice include Routine Home Care, In-patient, Respite, and Continuous Care.

Average Length of Stay

It is expected that a person will remain on hospice approximately six months, however the average amount of time a person receives services is about two to three months.

Who pays for it

Hospice is typically covered by Medicare, AHCCCS, and private insurance. Patients will typically not have a co-pay for services but it’s important to understand your insurance benefits prior to starting with a Hospice agency.

What I should know

  1. Hospice is not a “place” but rather is a team of healthcare professionals that bring care to the home of the person.
  2. In order to start services a terminal prognosis is needed, and in order to continue services a decline in condition needs to be present. It is possible to discharge from hospice for no longer meeting criteria even if a person’s condition is not improving.
  3. Hospice does not provide around the clock care, but members of each discipline will always be on call and available to provide support.
  4. In-patient status provides round the clock care at a skilled level in a contracted facility but is designed to be temporary. A person will typically only be at the In-patient level of care for a few days.
  5. The first few days of care can be very overwhelming. There may be several different people calling to schedule in home visits.
  6. Some hospice agencies have Palliative Care Programs that provide a more limited range of services to those that have a terminal illness but are not yet ready to stop seeking aggressive treatment or don’t have a six month or less prognosis. Palliative care programs will vary by agency.

Where do I go from here?

Hospice is end of life care and most people will pass away while under the care of hospice. If a person does discharge from hospice they may be referred to a palliative care program and/or a home health agency for further support.

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