It is not surprising that most people associate hospice with cancer. In the mid-1970s when hospice came to the U.S., most hospice patients had cancer. Today, more than half of hospice patients in the U.S. have other illnesses for which they are medically eligible for hospice services, such as late-stage heart, lung or kidney disease, and advanced Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. (source: Hospice Foundation of America). Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, VA and most insurance plans cover hospice services.
Hospice is not a place, because Hospice is a plan of care. Patients may receive Hospice services wherever they call home, which may be a private residence or that of a loved one, hospital, assisted living center, or nursing home.
“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life.”
~Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of modern hospice.
Hospice is considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury. Hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Support is provided to the patient’s loved ones as well. At the center of hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.
Typically, in order to receive hospice services:
- A hospice physician and a second physician (often the individual’s attending physician or specialist) must certify that the patient meets specific medical eligibility criteria;
- The patient’s life expectancy is 6 months or less if the illness, disease or condition