November is National Hospice Palliative Care MonthPosted by Medicare Made Clear
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Providers across the country are raising awareness of the many benefits of hospice palliative care.
Every year, more than 1.58 million people living with a life-limiting illness receive care from hospice palliative care providers in the U.S., reports the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.1
Palliative care is medical care that focuses on relieving the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness. Palliative care isn’t just for people with a life-limiting illness. This type of care is also for people with an ongoing illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice helps terminally ill people live their remaining days as comfortably as possible. Hospice is a type of care, not a specific place of care.
Hospice palliative care provides expert relief from distressing symptoms. These symptoms can include pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and many more. It also offers emotional support and spiritual care to patients and family caregivers.
Hospice care is usually provided in the patient’s home. This allows the patient to be with their loved ones in comfortable surroundings at the end of life. Hospice also can be made available at a hospice facility. Assistance is given to the patient around the clock, seven days a week by a hospice care team. The team usually includes a doctor, nurses, home health aides, clergy, social members and volunteers.
Most hospice patients receive one or more types of care.
Routine Home Care – Patient receives care at home.
Continuous Home Care – Patient receives care by a licensed nurse on a continuous basis at home. This type of care is only given during brief periods of crisis.
General Inpatient Care – Patient receives care in an inpatient facility for pain control or acute symptom management.
Inpatient Respite Care – Patient receives care in an approved facility on a short-term basis in order to provide rest for the caregiver.
Who Pays for Hospice?
Hospice care is covered under Medicare Part A, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. Medicare pays the entire cost of hospice care. Once hospice care begins, Medicare no longer covers treatments intended to cure. But hospice patients can return to Medicare’s curative care services at any time.
Family Support Services
People nearing end-of-life and their caregivers often face difficult issues of grief and loss—both before and after their loved one dies.
They may also have concerns about their legal rights and how to pay the bills now that their family member is gone. There are organizations to help families prepare for a loved one’s death. Family Caregiver Alliance offers resources that address everything from family counseling to financial planning.
Enrolling in hospice care is a personal decision. It depends almost as much on the patient’s philosophy of living and spiritual beliefs as it does on his or her physical condition and the concerns of family members.
Watching a loved one in the process of dying can be very painful. Knowing what to expect and how to let go may be helpful for you, your loved one and the rest of the family.
For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
What is Hospice?: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (nhpco.org)
2012 Hospice Care in America: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (nhpco.org)
Palliative Care: Improving quality of life when you’re seriously ill (cancer.ucsf.edu)
1 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: Comfort, Love and Respect that Hospice Offers is Focus of November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, 2012