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Hospice care provides supportive and palliative care for people who are nearing the end of their life. Hospice agencies that provide this type of care focus on improving comfort and quality of life rather than seeking a cure. The first official hospice agency was the Connecticut Hospice, which opened in 1974.
Hospice care has a multidisciplinary model that includes team of professionals such as doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, aides, and counselors. All of these professionals work together to provide services to the client and his or her respective family members. Services rendered include medical, emotional, and spiritual.
Congress enacted the Medicare hospice benefit in the early 1980's for people who had life expectancies of less than six months. The benefit periods are broken into two ninety-day periods with an unlimited number of 60 day periods if the patient continues to meet eligibility requirements.
- Routine Care
- Continuous Care
- General Inpatient
- Respite Care
Although the goal of hospice care is to not work towards a cure, workers may still administer curative solutions provided they increase the patient’s comfort and quality of life.
A patient must have two doctors' sign off stating they have six months or less to live to qualify for hospice services under Medicare. It is typical for the patient's primary care physician and the hospice physician to sign for verification of diagnosis.
Most physicians prefer to wait until the very last days to refer patients to hospice services. Nearly 35% of all patients referred to hospice care pass away within one week of admittance. This is mainly due to doctors waiting too long to admit. Unfortunately the hospice care in these instances does not provide adequate comfort for the patient and family members.
Data shows us that 60% of hospice patients have cancer. Hospice care is available to all demographics. Over 80% of patients are at least 65 years old. Hospice care is covered 100% by Medicare Part A with the exception of a co-pay for outpatient prescription drugs and respite care services.
Here is helpful article from the Mayo Clinc Hospice care: Comforting the terminally ill
For more information on Resources on illness, death and dying, loss, grief, and positive aging including some recommended books to help.