Frequently Asked Questions about Hospice
- Is hospice a place to go when there is nothing more that can be done?
- Is hospice just for the last day or two of life?
- What if a person lives longer than six months?
- Is hospice just for elderly people with cancer?
- Does a person have to live in Benton County to have BHS help?
- How do I get into hospice?
- Is hospice care expensive? Who pays?
- Does hospice make death come sooner?
- How does hospice "manage pain"?
- Don't hospice patients get addicted to all that morphine?
- Does hospice carry out physician-assisted deaths since they are legal in Oregon?
- Is hospice care available at home, even for those who live alone?
- Does hospice provide round-the-clock care?
- What if there is a problem on a weekend or holiday?
- What happens if a person gets better?
- What happens if a person changes his/her mind about hospice?
- What is meant by spiritual care? Is hospice religious?
- How is hospice different from other home health care?
- How many family members or friends does it take to care for someone at home?
- Is it difficult to care for a dying loved one at home?
- Do hospice patients have to give up seeing their regular doctor?
- Do doctors have to suggest hospice?
- Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
- How does Benton Hospice Service use and disclose protected health care information?
- Where can I get more information about hospice?
- What if I'm not quite ready for hospice care?
Is hospice a place to go when there is nothing more that can be done?
Hospice is not a place. It is a philosophy of care focusing on comfort and quality of life. Even when medicine cannot provide a cure, there is always something more that can be done to ease suffering, protect dignity, and respect individual choice.
Hospice provides hope:
- for freedom from pain and other unpleasant symptoms
- for dignity and control
- for the best possible quality of remaining life
Is hospice just for the last day or two of life?
No, hospice is designed to care for people during the last six months of life.
Some people believe that a person qualifies for hospice only if he or she is bedridden, unable to care for him/herself, or acutely dying. This is untrue. Many of our patients are still quite mobile, are able to care for themselves, and can participate actively in daily living.
What if a person lives longer than six months?
Becoming a hospice patient does not mean that you will die within six months. Determining an "expiration date" is beyond even the most experienced healthcare professional's skill. As long as your doctor would not be surprised if you were to die within six months and you choose to forego curative treatment, you may remain under hospice care.
Is hospice just for elderly people with cancer?
No, hospice is for people of all ages, including infants and children with any life-limiting illness, including but not limited to cancer, heart, lung, or kidney disease, AIDS, and Alzheimer's. More than half of BHS patients are diagnosed with conditions other than cancer.
Does a person have to live in Benton County to have Benton Hospice Service help?
Benton Hospice Service primarily provides care for persons in Benton County and Linn County, but is also able to serve parts of Lane, Lincoln, and Polk counties. From Dallas to Monroe to Junction City, from Alsea to Albany to Sweet Home, and all points in between, Benton Hospice Service is here to help.
How do I get into hospice?
Like other medical care, your physician must write a prescription, often called an order, for hospice care. The physician must believe you may die within six months if your disease runs it usual course, and you must choose comfort care rather than continue seeking a cure.
You don't have to wait for a doctor to tell you that hospice might be appropriate. You can call us anytime to ask questions or to help get a conversation started with a family member, caregiver, or physician.
Is hospice care expensive?
No. Medicare, the Oregon Health Plan, and many private insurance policies pay for hospice care. Because hospice care provides nursing visits, medications, equipment and supplies (as well as other services), many families find hospice care to be a great financial relief.
Benton Hospice Service does not turn anyone away because of a lack of financial resources. Through the generous support of our community, Benton Hospice Service is able to provide care to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.
Does hospice make death come sooner?
No, hospice neither hastens death nor prolongs life. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of childbirth, the hospice team provides a presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
Interestingly, on average, hospice patients live longer than those with the same disease or condition who are not in hospice care. A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (March 2007) found that hospice patients lived an average of 29 days longer than those who chose not to use hospice care.
How does hospice "manage pain"?
Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain and takes steps to address both.
Hospice nurses are experts in pain and symptom relief. Nurses are continually monitoring and adjusting medications. They also may recommend equipment, supplies, or therapies that may help alleviate pain.
Other hospice team members may also be called upon to help a patient be as comfortable as possible. For example, physical and occupational therapists can assist patients to be as mobile and self-sufficient as they are capable of; staff and volunteers may provide music therapy, art therapy or massage therapy; and chaplains are available to assist patients and family members with counseling.
Don't hospice patients get addicted to all that morphine?
Hospice nurses have special training in pain and symptom control. Morphine and other pain medications are used in the smallest amounts needed to effectively alleviate pain while maintaining alertness. Occasionally, a patient develops tolerance to higher doses because of intense pain. Medication dosages are carefully monitored by the nurse and the patient's physician to ensure that the patient—and the family—remain comfortable.
Does hospice carry out physician-assisted deaths since they are legal in Oregon?
The decision to pursue a physician-assisted death is a private issue between a person and his or her physician.
Benton Hospice Service will neither seek to hasten or postpone death, nor will we withdraw support for any of our patients or their families who choose this option. We acknowledge that there may be hospice patients who choose to avail themselves of their legal right in Oregon to pursue physician-assisted death. We support a person's right to choose but do not actively participate in a physician-assisted death.
Is hospice care available at home, even for those who live alone?
Hospice goes to wherever a person is—whether that's a private home, an assisted living facility, an adult foster care home, or a nursing home.
Hospice is available for those who live alone as long as they have family, friends, or paid caregivers able to provide daily care. If a person's care needs become greater than can be provided at home, a move to adult foster care or a nursing home may become necessary.
Does hospice provide round-the-clock care?
While Benton Hospice Service staff and volunteers are not with the patient every minute of the day, they do help the family and friends develop a plan to ensure the patient's safety and comfort. Hospice is not a substitute for care already provided by family, friends, and paid caregivers; rather it supplements and supports that care.
We do provide on-call nursing help 24 hours a day, seven days a week for questions or concerns that arise and visits as needed.
What if there is a problem on a weekend or holiday?
Help from the Benton Hospice Service team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nurses are always available to address concerns by telephone, or if needed, with a visit.
What happens if a person gets better?
If a person's condition improves, he or she can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive treatment or resume daily life. If at a later date it becomes necessary to return to hospice care, Medicare and most insurance programs will allow additional coverage.
What happens if a person changes his/her mind about hospice?
Hospice honors a person's choices. If while under hospice care, a person decides to pursue curative treatment options or for other reasons chooses to leave hospice, he or she may revoke the hospice benefit. Under Medicare, someone who has revoked their hospice benefit may return to hospice care as long as eligibility requirements are met. Private insurance companies' policies may vary and should be clearly understood prior to making revocation decisions.
What is meant by spiritual care? Is hospice religious?
A chaplain can visit any of our patients and their families—regardless of their religious affiliation or lack of it—to listen to the natural questions and concerns during this stage of life. For many this is a time to reflect on what their lives have meant, and what their lives still can mean. A thoughtful listener can often help. This is the role of our chaplains.
Benton Hospice Service is not affiliated with nor does it promote any religious organization.
How is hospice different from other home health care?
For most home health care providers, the goal is to get the patient well. In hospice, the staff and family recognize that the patient will not get well. We focus on comfort and support, rather than cure.
Benton Hospice Service provides an interdisciplinary team that works together to coordinate care and give practical and emotional support to those caring for a loved one. Benton Hospice Service also offers grief support for survivors for up to thirteen months after the death of a loved one.
How many family members or friends does it take to care for someone at home?
There is no set number. One of the first things the hospice team will do is prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed. Hospice team members visit regularly and are always accessible to answer medical questions, give instruction to caregivers, and provide support.
Is it difficult to care for a dying loved one at home?
It is never easy and can sometimes be difficult to care for a loved one at home. Caregivers are not alone when they are with hospice: the entire hospice team is there to give support and encouragement. There will be visits from nurses, hospice aides, social workers, and massage therapists to supplement care. The hospice nurse and social worker supply instruction on giving medications, providing care, and what to expect throughout the dying process. There are also trained volunteers who offer respite care to give family members a break and/or provide companionship to the patient.
Family members regularly report how much it means to them to be able to take care of someone they love themselves. Benton Hospice Service offers the support, education, and encouragement to every caregiver.
Advice and support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, should questions or concerns arise at night or on the weekend.
Do hospice patients have to give up seeing their regular doctor?
Each person's own physician remains an integral part of the hospice team whenever possible. If this isn't feasible or preferred, our Medical Director can provide guidance for a person's care.
Do doctors have to suggest hospice?
No, you can bring up hospice with your doctor at any time.
Questions you might want to ask:
- Is this disease curable?
- If not, what are the chances for improvement?
- What can be expected to happen in the next few weeks and months?
- What options are available?
- Is hospice something to be considered now?
- When might hospice be appropriate?
You can also contact Benton Hospice Service to discuss whether hospice is an appropriate choice.
Identifying preferences for end-of-life care is important for everyone. An Advance Directive is a way for individuals to specify choices and instructions if there comes a time when they are unable to articulate their decisions.
Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Benton Hospice Serve offers continuing contact and support for family members and caregivers up to thirteen months following the death of a loved one. We also offer grief education and support groups for those who have experienced a death whether their loved one was under hospice care or not.
How does Benton Hospice Service use and disclose protected health care information?
Benton Hospice Service maintains privacy protection and adheres to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). More information on this can be found in our Notice of Privacy Practices.
Where can I get more information about hospice?
Click here for places that will provide more information about hospice, how it works, and how it can help.
What if I'm not quite ready for hospice?
Transitions is a community program from Benton Hospice Service designed to help individuals and families live well with a serious, life-limiting illness. Transitions is for those who are either not ready for, or not appropriate for, hospice care. Click here for more information.