Like many medical services, hospice may not be something you fully understand until you’re facing it with a parent or loved one. Often, hospice is first mentioned during a conversation with your parent’s physician. Your parent’s physician is best qualified to determine when hospice is right for your parent; however, they rely heavily on hospice providers like us to coach you through the process and be there as your first point of contact during this emotional time.
As a Utah hospice company, we get many questions from family members who haven’t experienced hospice before. You may be asking yourself: What is hospice? What does this mean for my parent or loved one? Is there an alternative?
These are all valid questions. In this article, we hope to answer some of them as well as other frequently asked questions about hospice care. This guide is a helpful place to start your hospice journey, before you make that first call or schedule a meeting with a hospice coordinator.
While hospice may be an unfamiliar journey for you, it’s one we’ve experienced many times. We hope to assure you that during this difficult and overwhelming time, we’re here to help.
For specific questions regarding your loved one’s hospice care, please contact our hospice care coordinator to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice
Below are some of the most common questions we receive from family members and friends arranging hospice care in Utah for their loved one.
What is hospice?
Hospice care is a unique service for families who have a loved one facing the final months of life.
Hospice is recommended for those patients with an advanced illness or condition that is no longer being treated successfully — either because of the extent of the condition or because the patient no longer wishes to receive treatment. Hospice care pivots from traditional medical care in that it treats the person and their symptoms, rather than treating the illness or condition itself. The aim is not to cure an illness, but to provide comfort-based care.
Hospice is characterized by compassionate, at-home, comprehensive support. The philosophy behind hospice is that the final stage of life is most comfortable when it’s spent in familiar surroundings with family and friends close by. Hospice, however, is not just about the patient. Hospice companies are family-centered, providing assistance for the entire family during the grieving process.
Does hospice mean end-of-life?
The idea behind hospice is to accept the natural progression of dying as the final stage of life. Far from being a “waiting period” for death, hospice celebrates and protects the fullness of life until the very final moments. It does not attempt to speed up or slow down death, rather letting the patient’s body determine its own timeline.
Through a variety of methods, patients are kept as comfortable as possible during their hospice journey. A comprehensive hospice company in Utah, led by a physician and including skilled nurses, counselors, and other health professionals, work together to make sure a hospice patient’s final days are those of dignity and peace, surrounded by family and loved ones.
How do I qualify for hospice services?
A patient must be referred by their doctor to begin hospice.
Additionally, the patient will be certified by a Hospice Medical Director and attending physician, to be expected to live six months or less, if their condition runs its natural course. If patients live beyond 6 months, they can continue to qualify for hospice care as long as the physicians believe death is still likely within six months.
Some of the illnesses or conditions that often lead to hospice care include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Breast Cancer
- Bone Marrow Transplant
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Colon Cancer
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Eosinophil Associated Disease (EAD)
- Head and Neck Cancer
- Huntington’s Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Leukemia and Lymphoma
- Liver disease
- Lung Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Ovarian Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Prostate Cancer
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
- Sickle Cell Anemia
This list is not comprehensive, but simply a reference to illustrate the many different types of conditions that may lead someone to hospice.
How long does someone live after being put on hospice; is hospice a death sentence?
As mentioned above, hospice care is recommended for those patients expected to live six months or less. This can only be determined by a patient’s physician. Hospice services in no way expedite the dying process; they support a person and their family physically, spiritually, and emotionally as they prepare for life’s final journey.
Five factors often affect how long a patient will be in hospice:
- Age: Patients above the age of 65 die within the six-month timeframe more often.
- Gender: Men are more likely to die within six months than women.
- Palliative Performance Scale score: This scoring model evaluates criteria like whether patients are ambulatory and able to care for themselves. A higher score means greater eligibility for hospice as well as a greater likelihood of dying sooner.
- Environment: Patients admitted to hospice from a hospital are most likely to die within six months. Those admitted from nursing homes are least likely.
- Condition: Patients living with advanced cancer are more likely to die within six months than those diagnosed with other diseases or conditions such as Alzheimer’s or kidney disease.
How much does Utah hospice care cost?
Hospice care is covered in full by Medicare, the federal health insurance program for those citizens 65 years of age and older. In Utah, hospice is also covered by Medicaid. Most private health insurance plans also cover hospice care in full or in part. This coverage alleviates the financial burden that most families incur during the end of life.
If the cost of a hospice company in Utah is high on your list of concerns, our hospice care coordinator can help you better understand what you may or may not be responsible to pay. Our initial meeting can help you better understand the financial aspect of hospice care, and how we bill your health insurance provider.
My loved one isn't elderly, but is being recommended for hospice care; isn't this a service for seniors?
While hospice is often mentioned in reference to seniors, it is not exclusive to one age group; seniors do, however, make up the largest percentage of patients receiving hospice care. Hospice care is not just for seniors, but for anyone facing the end of life. Illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and ALS can affect patients in their 20s to 50s, long before they ever become a senior. Hospice makes the final months of life comfortable no matter the age of the patient.
What care is provided to hospice patients?
Hospice care is medical and wellness care that supports the comfort of the patient. Therefore, it changes based on the patient’s unique needs.
There are four standard levels of hospice care. Depending on the current needs of your loved one, a Utah hospice service will determine the initial level of care and make adjustments as your loved one’s health changes.
- Routine Home Care.
This is the standard level of care for a patient in their home or in a long-term care facility. The Utah hospice company care team will provide comprehensive support, and you and your loved one may receive regular visits from the hospice physician, grief counselor, social worker, chaplain, hospice volunteers, hospice health aides, and skilled nursing staff. This level of care may include assistance with daily tasks such as mealtime, using the bathroom, and bathing. It also includes instructing family members and other unpaid caregivers on how to best care for their loved one regarding nutrition, movement or exercise, and more. Routine hospice services may also include delivering medications, monitoring medical equipment, providing pain relief care like massage therapy or acupuncture, leading discussions to help the family prepare emotionally for the end of life, and much more.
- Continuous Home Care.
Once a patient’s condition has progressed and they need continual care, hospice services may adjust to provide a nurse or health aide in your loved one’s home or room for an extended period of time. This will allow them to provide more diligent care to better manage a person’s needs and concerns.
- General Inpatient Care.
If severe pain, trouble breathing, or other serious symptoms advance, your loved one may require a short stay in an inpatient hospice facility. If your loved one’s needs intensify, the hospice team may recommend this level of hospice care and transfer your loved one to a recommended Utah hospice facility. Inpatient hospice care is seen as a temporary measure. While there, hospice staff will try to control severe pain and symptoms so the patient can go back to their home and familiar surroundings and resume routine hospice there.
- Respite Care.
Respite hospice care is an occasional service that allows for a short-term break for unpaid caregivers. This gives them respite from the challenges of supporting their parent or loved one through the progression of advanced disease. Respite care can only be provided at a Medicare-certified inpatient hospice facility, hospital, or skilled nursing facility. If needed or recommended, our team can refer you to a facility that offers this temporary intensive care.
Can hospice administer IV fluids at home?
Yes. Skilled nursing staff at a hospice company in Utah can provide IV fluids at home. This is a safe and sustainable way to ensure the patient is hydrated and receiving adequate nutrients. Hospice nurses can monitor and manage other medical equipment as prescribed by the patient’s physician, such as an oxygen tank, ventilator, CPAP machine, and catheter. They can also provide critical education to family members, showing them how to monitor equipment and when to alert hospice staff of an issue.
Additionally, hospice staff provide efficient delivery of critical medical supplies to patients. Supplies may include:
- Protective Briefs
- Bed Protectors
- Barrier Cream
- Oral Swabs
- Wound Supplies
- Catheter Supplies
- Oxygen Concentrators
- Oxygen Tubing
- Compression Stockings
- Ostomy Supplies
- Respiratory Supplies
- Ostomy Supplies
Compassionate Hospice Care in Utah
We hope this article has answered some of your initial questions about hospice care.
If your loved one’s physician is recommending hospice home care in Utah, turn to Active Home Health & Hospice. Currently serving the Wasatch Front, we offer attentive hospice care in homes across Salt Lake, Utah, Weber, Tooele, and Davis Counties.
Active Home Health and Hospice is locally owned and operated, with over 30 years of combined healthcare experience.
Our mission is to stand for excellence in patient service and care. We pledge to lead by example in the community by placing patient care where it belongs, above profit. We hire attentive caregivers nurtured in a culture of mutual respect and accountability.
If you would like to learn more about our services, our team, and our approach to at-home care, please contact a Utah hospice coordinator on our team. We look forward to speaking with you.