Hospice FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is hospice?

Hospice is a philosophy of high-quality, compassionate care for anyone of any age who has a life-limiting illness and does not want any more curative treatment. It provides dignity, choice and comfort so what remains of life can be lived to its fullest. Hospice care also provides a great deal of support for family members in the form of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is designed to maximize the quality of life for patients with advanced or life-limiting illness. Hospice is a form of palliative care, but hospice is for those who don’t want to continue curative treatment. At Hospice Atlanta, our palliative care is called the Advanced Illness Management (AIM) program and it combines active and compassionate therapies to compliment the patient’s medical care.

What’s the difference between home healthcare, hospice care and private home care?

Home Healthcare is quite like it sounds. It is medical attention provided by skilled professionals that takes place in the comfort and convenience of your own home. The care comes to you rather than you having to travel to a hospital or clinic. Home healthcare is coordinated by a licensed, qualified organization and may involve the services of nurses, therapists, clinicians and sometimes even social workers providing non-medical support. It is a service ordered by a physician for patients who may be recovering from a surgery, illness or injury or for those facing chronic illness.

Hospice care is a philosophy of high-quality, compassionate care for anyone of any age who has a life-limiting illness and does not want any more curative treatment. It provides dignity, choice and comfort so what remains of life can be lived to its fullest. Hospice care also provides a great deal of support for family members in the form of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance.

Private Home Care provides care that concentrates on activities of daily living that including live in senior care, personal care, household/chore services, and transportation. These are all things that allow us to remain independent and in our homes.

Where does hospice care take place?

Hospice Atlanta provides hospice services in the comfort and ease of the patient’s home, wherever that may be, including an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Can I receive hospice care in an assisted living or nursing home?

Yes. Our skilled and intuitive team can also provide care in an assisted living or nursing home or any other living situation.

How does hospice work?

A family member is usually the primary caregiver and assists with making care decisions for the patient. Together the family/primary caregiver and hospice team collaborate to create an overall plan that includes treatment, support, personal care, and a number of specialized services for the patient and their family.

When is the right time to involve hospice?

It is always the family’s choice, but the right time may be when the patient’s prognosis is life-limiting (six months or less) and the patient is ready to stop curative treatment.

How can someone get started with hospice care?

To begin hospice care with Hospice Atlanta please give us a call us at (404) 869-3000. We will work with the patient’s physician to confirm hospice care is appropriate at this time.

Does the hospice patient need someone with them at all times?

No. It is not required that someone be with the hospice patient at all times during the earlier stages. During the later stages of care however, it is recommended.

In order to care for a hospice patient at home how many family members/friends will be needed to assist?

When our hospice team develops your care plan they will be able to determine if additional home help from family and friends is necessary. If the patient has extra help from family and friends or not, our staff will visit the home regularly and be available to answer questions and provide support.

Is it difficult to care for a dying loved one at home?

When caring for a dying loved one in the home comes with a lot of changes that be challenging. Some have found it stressful or exhausting especially during the night. Our hospice team is available 24/7 for support when needed.

How much does hospice care cost?

Hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance.

What hospice services are covered under Medicare/Medicaid benefits?

These benefits cover most everything:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Certified nursing assistants
  • Chaplains
  • Bereavement counselors
  • Medical equipment (hospital beds, oxygen, wheelchairs, etc.)
  • Medications for pain and symptom control
  • Other medications may also be covered

If the situation improves, can the patient leave hospice?

Of course. If the patient’s condition improves, they can return to their regular medical care. And the patient can return back to hospice, as well, as many times as necessary.

Can a hospice patient go to a hospital?

Yes. Patients always have the right to go to the hospital. But there is the possibility it will change the patient’s hospice status. In most cases, an emergency transfer to a hospital is not part of a hospice plan unless it is unrelated to the terminal diagnosis (e.g., a fractured hip, a blood clot). If the patient needs to go to the hospital, the hospice case manager should be immediately notified. The hospice team will work with the family in determining the next steps in the plan of care.

Does hospice speed up dying?

Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the process of dying. Hospice care just manages symptoms and discomfort for the best quality of life and to minimize suffering.

What kind of pain management can hospice provide?

Hospice Atlanta nurses have access to and are experts in most state-of-the-art pain and symptom relief. And because an illness also brings on emotional and spiritual pain, we provide counselors and chaplains, as well.

Will medications prevent a hospice patient from being able to talk or know what’s happening?

Not usually. When a patient is in hospice, it is the goal to help them live as actively as possible with little to no pain or discomfort.

Can the patient keep their regular physician when in hospice care?

Yes. Hospice is an extension of the regular medical care. We can also provide a medical doctor, if needed.

Does Hospice Atlanta support the family after the patient is gone?

Yes. Families and friends are supported for at least one year after a loved one’s passing and even longer than that if needed. If you are in need of bereavement support, our Bereavement Coordinators are available by phone (404) 869-3000 for grief support and counseling during regular business hours Monday-Friday.

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