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. Many patients live well beyond the prognosis given upon admission to 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.
Where does a person have to live to have Canon Hospice’s help?
Canon Hospice Serves patients and families in a fifty mile radius of all office locations. If you live within 50 miles of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, or Covington, Louisiana; or within 50 miles of Gulfport, Mississippi, Canon Hospice can provide care for you. Care is provided in the home, in nursing homes, assisted living centers and on our inpatient units.
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 have a limited life expectancy of six months or less should your disease run 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, 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.
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, under the direction of the Hospice Medical Director, 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 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.
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 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 care or a nursing home may become necessary.
Does hospice provide round-the-clock care?
While Canon Hospice 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 Canon Hospice 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.
Canon Hospice 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.
Canon Hospice provides an interdisciplinary team that works together to coordinate care and give practical and emotional support to those caring for a loved one. Canon Hospice 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 volunteers who visit the home. The hospice nurse will supply instruction on giving medications, providing care, and what to expect throughout the dying process. The social worker is there to provide support throughout the time of service. 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. Canon Hospice 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 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 always ask Canon Hospice to discuss whether hospice is an appropriate choice.
How does Canon Hospice use and disclose protected health care information?
Canon Hospice maintains privacy protection and adheres to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Once a patient passes away, a copy of the chart may be released to the Executor of the Estate or by subpoena.
Where can I get more information about hospice?
You can contact a Canon office near you and we will be happy to provided information over the phone, or mail information to you. In Gulfport and New Orleans, where our inpatient units are located, we have an open door policy. Please feel free to come in and tour the inpatient unit and speak to one of our representative.
What if I'm not quite ready for hospice?
AIM (Advanced Illness Management) is a program offered to anyone in the community, free of charge, who is currently dealing with a terminal diagnosis, and under the care of a home health agency. The AIM program provides education, social worker and chaplain support to patients and their families. For more information, please go www.Akulafoundation.com.