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Frequently Asked Questions

When is it time to consider hospice?

Hospice can be contacted when patients and family make a choice for palliative (comfort) care rather than curative treatment. Hospice offers patients the choice to complete their lives with dignity, purpose and peace.

Care One Hospice is known for the expertise and compassion of our dedicated team. If your Medicare coverage is currently assigned to an HMO, you may elect Care One Hospice as your hospice. You may continue to see your personal physician.

 Send your referral to us at 866-952-2734, or fax to 866-861-2455

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What is a life-limiting illness?

The term ‘life-limiting illness’ is used to describe a chronic disease or condition that doesn’t respond to curative treatments, leading to a terminal diagnosis. This definition is inclusive of illnesses of both a malignant and non-malignant nature. A life-limiting illness might be expected to shorten an individual’s life. Having a life-limiting illness qualifies a patient for hospice.
Cancer is the most common such illness. Others include:

  • ALS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac Disease
  • Dementia
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Liver Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Renal/Kidney Disease
  • Stroke

Hospice may also be appropriate for those patients who have several conditions that, when considered together, leave their health fragile and shorten their life expectancy.

How are pain and symptoms managed?

Even when nothing more can be done to cure an illness, much can still be done to ease a patient’s pain and symptoms. Pain control is one of the central goals of hospice care. Most patients and families who use hospice services expect that the hospice will make every effort to relieve the pain which afflicts their loved one. Using hospice services will, in most cases, assure that the patient receives the pain medications needed to control his pain: the hospice Interdisciplinary Team and the hospice RN case manager are focused on making sure the patient is comfortable.

The professionals at Care One Hospice are experts in pain and symptom management. Our Interdisciplinary Team will work with patients and their caregivers to understand the sources of pain and find treatments that provide real relief.

Where is hospice care provided?

Hospice is not a “place”; patients receive hospice care where ever they call home. Home may be a private residence, a nursing home or an assisted living facility.

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to curative treatments. Hospice care tries to manage symptoms; its primary goal is to improve the quality of a patient’s life by offering comfort and dignity.

Hospice affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice staff and volunteers offer a specialized knowledge of medical care, including pain management. Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease; it focuses on quality rather than length of life. Hospice care is family-centered — it includes the patient and the family in making decisions. Read more

What does Hospice do?

Hospice services are designed to provide support to patients, their families and loved ones through the use of an interdisciplinary health care team. This means that many interacting disciplines work together. Doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and trained volunteers care for patients and their families. Each of these team members offers support based on their special areas of expertise. Together, they give patients and their loved ones complete palliative care aimed at relieving symptoms and giving social, emotional, and spiritual support.

Case Managers make regular nursing visits for pain and symptom management. They also offer teaching and support to the caregiver(s), as well as providing 24 hour support by phone or emergency nursing visits as needed. The goal of pain and symptom control is to help patients to be comfortable while allowing them to stay in control of and enjoy their lives. This means that discomfort, pain, and side effects are managed to make sure that patients are as free of pain and symptoms as possible, yet still alert enough to enjoy the people around them and make important decisions.

The Hospice Physician works in conjunction with the patient’s physician to provide pain and symptom management.

Social Workers help patients and their families understand and cope with the related emotional and/or financial stress and provide counseling. Family members kept informed of the patient’s condition and what to expect during counseling sessions with social worker or hospice nurse. Counseling sessions also give a chance to share feelings, talk about what to expect and what is needed, and learn about death and the process of dying. Family members can find great support and stress relief through regular counseling sessions.

Chaplains/Rabbis are on hand to offer spiritual support for patients and their families. Since people differ in their spiritual needs and religious beliefs, spiritual care is set up to meet patient’s specific needs.

Home Health Aides provide personal care needs such as bathing, taking vital signs, observing condition of the skin, and other daily basic care needs, as well as light housekeeping.

Volunteers provide a variety of care such as companionship, support, running errands and offering temporary relief to the family. Hospice volunteers play an important role in planning and giving hospice care. They may be health professionals or lay people who provide services that range from hands-on care to working in the hospice office.

Specialized Bereavement or Grief Specialists provide support to patients loved ones. Bereavement is the time of mourning after a loss. The hospice care team works with surviving loved ones to help them through the grieving process. A trained volunteer, clergy member, or professional counselor provides support to survivors through visits, phone calls, as well as through support groups. The hospice team can refer family members and care-giving friends to other medical or professional care if needed. Bereavement services are often provided for about a year after the patient’s death.

What are the different levels of hospice care?

Most patients begin with routine home care. Usually, a family member provides day-to-day care. Care One Hospice provides the equipment; medications and information that caregivers need to fulfill their duties.

  • Routine Care.

    Our Registered Nurses make regular home visits to assist with pain and symptom management, and our Certified Nursing Assistants, social workers and other team members visit as needed. Nurses are also available anytime by phone to help patients and caregivers through a crisis.For in-home patients who require skilled nursing care to control their pain and other symptoms. Our Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants stay with the patient for longer periods of time, day or night, as needed.

  • Respite Care.

    Even the most committed caregivers occasionally needs a break. Care One Hospice can offer them a break through respite care, which is often offered in up to 5-day periods. During this time patients will be cared for a short period of time either in a hospital setting, hospice facility or in beds that are set aside for this in nursing homes. Families can plan a mini-vacation, go to special events, or simply get much-needed rest at home while you are cared for in an inpatient setting.

  • In-patient Care.

    Some patients require more involved care that can be offered in a home setting. Care One Hospice also supports those who are hospitalized or in a extended-care facility. The hospice can arrange for inpatient care and will stay involved in patients’ care and with their families. Patients can go back to in-home care when they and their families are ready.

  • Continuous Care.

    Sometimes a patient has a medical crisis that needs close medical attention. When this happens, we offer short-term care that is available in patient’s home when symptoms cannot be managed by the usual caregivers.  The hospice provider determines when such care is needed and for how long. Depending on the needs of the patient, he or she might remain at home with our team members providing round-the-clock care or be hospitalized for pain or symptom management following in-home crisis care. When the crisis is over, the patient returns to routine home care.

The interdisciplinary team coordinates and supervises all care 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This team is responsible for making sure that all involved services share information. This may include the inpatient facility, the home care agency, the doctor, and other community professionals, such as pharmacists, clergy, and funeral directors. You and your caregivers are encouraged to contact your hospice team if you are having a problem, any time of the day or night. There is always someone on call to help you with whatever may arise. Hospice care assures you and your family that you are not alone and help can be reached at any time.

What is Plan of Care?

We create an individualized plan for each. The plan will take into account patient’s unique needs and wants, while at the same time addressing their symptoms, pain management and all other technical aspects of their care. The plan is designed and managed by an interdisciplinary health care team in conjunction with patient’s primary care physician. The team meets regularly to discuss changes in condition, changing family needs and any other issues related to care. Each member of the hospice team can access this plan, which is continuously updated to reflect the patient’s preferences.

How can hospice help my family?

Care One Hospice team offers complete care by addressing all our patients’ physical symptoms. We help patients and their families cope with many stresses that accompany a life-limiting illness. We also help them manage end-of-life decisions and provide emotional and

Care One Hospice offers families peace of mind at this stressful time in their lives, our patients and their families rely on the expertise of our physicians, the around-the-clock availability of our Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, and the aid and compassion of our trained volunteers.

Care One Hospice grief specialists and volunteers provide bereavement services following the death of a loved one. Individual support, family meetings, support groups, home visits and telephone contact are also available options. 

Why is early referral important?

Early referral greatly enhances the effectiveness of Care One Hospice team by providing ample time to address both the physical needs of the patient and the practical, emotional and spiritual needs of the entire family. Consistently we hear the comment from patients and families, “I wish we had known about hospice much sooner.”

Expert pain and symptom management is just the start. We offer emotional and spiritual aid to the patient and his or her family. We support the patient’s caregiver throughout the hospice stay. We help family members discuss end-of-life issues and help patients organize their personal affairs.

By living with less pain, the patient has better presence of mind to manage difficult choices and make their wishes known to their loved ones.

What can caregivers do to cope?

Caring for a hospice patient is a rewarding task, but it’s also a serious responsibility. A caregiver has to be physically, emotionally and spiritually ready to help when the patient is in need.

Care One Hospice works to ease caregivers’ burden in many ways. Our health professionals ensure that caregivers are fully informed and well-prepared to care for their loved ones to the best of their ability. Along with medical assistance and in-home help from trained volunteers, we offer respite care, grief counseling, spiritual support and more.

Caregivers and loved ones who become emotionally overwhelmed may be helped by the hospice social worker or by a referral to a therapist. Patients and their loved ones are welcome to talk about their feeling with the hospice nurse, social worker and chaplain. Because caregiving is such a big job, caregivers need to take care of themselves to avoid becoming exhausted.

How does hospice support caregivers?

Being a caregiver can affect you both physically and emotionally. You may have trouble sleeping, which can lead to fatigue. The fatigue, in turn, can make negative feelings worse and even result in your own depression. Unfortunately, problems like exhaustion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, anxiety, frustration, fear and depression are all too common among caregivers. You can’t properly tend to a hospice patient if you neglect your own well-being.

There are ways you can better care for yourself while you care for your loved one. Start by getting the nutrition and rest you need. Learn to recognize and manage sources of stress. Accept the help of hospice volunteers, family members — anyone who will lend a hand. Make time for yourself when you can, and if daily caregiving becomes too much, ask for respite care. Care One Hospice professionals can discuss these and other coping strategies with you.

Does accepting hospice mean giving up?

Hospice concentrates on providing hope by giving patients a chance to live their lives without being incapacitated by pain and by providing caregivers the support they need, by helping them manage the various aspects of a prolonged and life-limiting illness so family members can more fully enjoy the time with their loved ones. We recognize that each patient’s circumstance is unique. Care One Hospice strives to provide each patient with a quality of life as the patient defines it, on his or her terms.

Do I have to give up my primary care physician?

Care One Hospice encourages the primary physician to be part of the Interdisciplinary Care Team and continue to see the patient. We supplement rather than replace the primary physician. Care One Hospice will work closely with your physician on your plan of care and on all medical treatments, in or out of hospice.

Who pays for hospice?

Hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medi-Cal and private insurers.  Admission to Care One Hospice is based on the patient’s needs rather than the ability to pay. Hospice care includes pain medication, durable medical equipment, supplies, and personal care at no cost through Medicare or Medi-Cal. Most health plans and HMOs also include hospice coverage. An individualized plan of care is established by the patient, family, and our skilled professionals.

Is there a limit to hospice care?

To be considered eligible for hospice care patients must have a confirmed diagnosis of a life-limiting illness with a possible life expectancy that is generally within six months, based upon the current diagnosis.

Although the physician is asked to certify a prognosis of six months or less,  there is, in fact, no limit to the length of Hospice services.  Should a patient stabilize over many months, or should there be a change in the goals of the plan of care, a patient may be discharged from Hospice.  If this happens, former patients are able to return to hospice care if their condition declines and meets the appropriate medical criteria.

Does hospice only care for cancer patients?

Any person facing the advancing stages of any terminal illness is eligible for hospice care. Hospice care is appropriate when the following conditions are met:

  • The physician thinks the patient will live six months or less if the disease runs its normal course.
  • The patient, family and physician agree and understand that the focus is on comfort (pain control and symptom management), not cure.

About 55 percent of hospice patients are cancer patients, but an ever-increasing number of patients with other diseases (including Alzheimer’s, ALS, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and AIDS) receive hospice care.

What if I change my mind about hospice care?

Hospice is about choice. Patients help guide their care with Care One Hospice by expressing their needs, desires, goals and intentions regarding their health and the lifestyle they wish to live during their time with Care One Hospice. Patients may choose to discontinue hospice care services at any time. If the patient improves, the disease stabilizes, or the patient goes into remission and no longer meets the medical criteria, hospice care would be discontinued. The patient can return to hospice care if their condition declines and they are once again hospice eligible.

What if my condition improves?

If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.