Compassion and Support


Patients & Families

Hospice: Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for Hospice?

Usually, someone is eligible for Hospice if their doctor is willing to certify that a person has a terminal illness likely to cause death in 6 months or less. In addition, the person and his/her doctor need to agree to a plan of care that focuses on comfort, while discontinuing treatment intended to cure the disease. The person does not, necessarily need to know their prognosis. However, they must no longer want any treatment with the sole goal of curing their illness. Once the person is admitted to Hospice, they will not be able, for example, to start a feeding tube. However, someone who already has a feeding tube in place can be admitted to Hospice.

How do you arrange Hospice care?

The ill person, a family member or friend, or the physician can call one of the two Hospice providers in Monroe County: Hospice of Rochester — 585-214-1400, or the Visiting Nurse Service Hospice — 585-787-8315. For Hospice services in Wayne and Seneca Counties, contact Hospice of Wayne and Seneca Counties — 800-562-1650. For Hospice services in Ontario and Yates Counties, contact Ontario-Yates Hospice — 315-789-9821.The Hospice organization will send out an evaluator who will explain the services available under Hospice and will start the process of finding out if the person is eligible for Hospice. If the referral did not come from the physician, the Hospice will contact the physician to get his or her approval as well as some medical history. The actual admission decision is made by a team including the Hospice Medical Director, a social worker, and the evaluator.

What services are provided by Hospice?

Hospices provide the following services as part of a patient’s care plan:
  • Physician services, provided by either the patient's personal physician or a physician affiliated with the hospice program;
  • Regular home care visits by nurses to monitor the patient's condition and to provide appropriate care and maintain patient comfort;
  • Home health aide services such as dressing and bathing that address the patient's personal needs;
  • Chaplain services for the patient and/or loved ones, if desired;
  • Social work and counseling services;
  • Bereavement counseling to help patients and their loved ones with grief and loss;
  • Medical equipment (i.e., hospital beds) and supplies (i.e., bandages and catheters);
  • Drugs for symptom control and pain relief;
  • Volunteer support to assist the patient and loved ones;
  • Physical, speech, and occupational therapy; and
  • Dietary counseling.

Is Hospice covered by my insurance?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers all of the services listed above in full, without deductibles or co-payments. Medicaid, Blue Cross, Blue Choice, Preferred Care and many other health insurance plans provide the same coverage as Medicare.
Some insurance companies do have co-payments or limits either of time or of coverage. The staff of the Hospice will contact your insurance company if coverage is not clearly known.

What is the approach of the care provided under Hospice?

Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end-of-life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient's needs and wishes. Hospice extends support to the patient's loved ones, as well.
At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our loved ones will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. In most cases, care is provided in the patient's home. Hospice care is also provided in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes and other long- term care facilities. Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness.

Typically, a loved one serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make decisions for the terminally ill individual. Members of the hospice staff make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other services. Hospice staff is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The hospice team develops a care plan that focuses on the patient's comfort and quality of life, including the need for pain management and symptom control. The plan outlines the medical and support services required such as nursing care, personal care (dressing, bathing, etc.), social services, physician visits, counseling, and homemaker services. It also identifies the medical equipment, tests, procedures, medication and treatments necessary to provide high-quality comfort care.

Can a person change his/her mind and discontinue Hospice care?

Yes, someone who has been admitted to Hospice can choose to revoke their hospice benefit and resume treatments that are designed to cure their disease. A Hospice nurse or social worker will come out to have a revocation form signed. All Hospices ask the family or friends of the hospice patient to call them before taking the person to an emergency room. If the person clearly has an injury or illness not related to the terminal diagnosis, they can go to the emergency room or to the hospital for care, but they should call Hospice to inform them what is happening.

Can a person be "kicked off" of Hospice?

No. Patients can continue to receive Hospice care even if they live longer than 6 months. As long as a physician certifies that the illness is likely to cause death in 6 months or less a person remains eligible for Hospice.

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