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Frequently Asked Questions about Hospice Care:

Q. Is hospice just for people with terminal cancer?
A. Hospice is available to any person with a life limiting illness which includes cancer as well as any non-cancer diagnoses such as congestive heart failure and chronic lung disease.


Q. Do you need to leave your home when you are put on hospice?
A. Hospice is a philosophy of care not a place. Hospice can be provided in private homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities as well as hospice houses.


Q. Is hospice care available after hours?
A. Hospice care is available on-call after normal business hours most hospices have nurses available to respond within minutes if necessary. Many hospice care organizations have chaplains and social workers on-call as well.


Q. Can I get hospice services if I am already in a long term care facility?
A. Hospice services can be provided to a terminally ill patient wherever they live. The hospice and the nursing facility will have a written agreement in place in order for the hospice to provide services in the facility.


Q. When is the right time to ask about hospice?
A. Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern.


Q. Should I wait for the doctor to suggest hospice?
A. Many times it will require that the family member ask the attending physician about the hospice option. Some doctors are reluctant to talk with family members about hospice because they do not want to give the impression that there is no hope of recovery.


Q. Who pays for hospice services?
A. If the patient has Medicare and meets hospice eligibility requirements, than the government will pay as much as 100% of the costs. In such a case there is no deductible and no co-payment.


Q. Is all hospice care the same?
A. No, Most communities have more than one hospice provider. Medicare requires certified hospices provide a basic level of care but the quantity and quality of services can vary significantly. To find a quality hospice provider, ask your doctor, clergy member, health care professionals, social workers or friends that have received care for a family member.


Q. Can a hospice patient that shows signs of recovery return to normal medical treatment?
A. Yes. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice and returned to an aggressive treatment or just to go on with their daily life.


Q. Does hospice provide 24 hour care?
A. Hospice staff is on call for emergencies 24 hours per day. Hospice care does not include a nurse in the home 24/7. If the patient requires more care than what can be provided in the home, some hospices have their own inpatient facilities. Larger communities will have Post-Acute Care centers, hospitals, and even Hospice Houses that can be utilized for this higher level of care.

 

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It is an unfortunate circumstance that Hospice Care is still largely a misunderstood concept in South Carolina in both the medical community and the public sector. If you talk to people involved with hospice care and families that have experienced hospice care you will wonder why every person facing a life limiting illness is not given the choice to be cared for by hospice at the end of life. When the aggressive treatment of a life-limiting illness is no longer a viable option a discussion with the treating physician about the availability of hospice is always appropriate.


The decision to bring in hospice care can be complicated by family members that are not willing to give up and want to pursue additional treatment. It is important for the person that is dying to make their wishes known in advance and there are documents such as "Five Wishes" that can facilitate that process.


Hospice care uses a team approach to care that is usually in conjunction with a primary caregiver that can be a family member or friend. The Hospice Team consists of doctors, nurses, nurse assistants, chaplains and social workers along with volunteers. The team virtually wraps the patient in a blanket of care and allows the family to be less concerned with the medical care of the patient and more involved with just being present and available for support.


Hospice care is non-curative medical treatment that is focused on the comfort and quality of the remaining life of the patient. The hospice patient for the most part can remain in the familiar surroundings they are accustomed to and it is common for him/her to remain in their own home. Sometimes a Hospice House or Post-Acute Care Center may be utilized when the primary caregiver is overwhelmed and pain control or symptom management requires a higher level of care then what can be provided for in the home.


Hospice benefits are available under Medicare hospital benefit Part A. Medicare beneficiaries who choose hospice care and are certified by a physician receive non-curative medical support and services for their terminal illness. Hospice care under Medicare includes both home-care and Inpatient care when needed.

 

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The vision of Agapé Senior and Agapé Hospice, Inc. is to help serve our people in South Carolina with an integrated health services network, and a primary care presence in strategic markets throughout our beautiful state. Agapé Senior is recognized as a senior services provider of distinction, which values its employees and functions with a financially responsible plan and an empowering environment.

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