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Is Hospice Care Free & Other Hospice FAQs

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Hospice care is an end-of-life service that provides compassionate, palliative care to people with terminal illnesses. In addition to providing one-on-one patient treatment, hospice nurses and doctors provide direct access to pain-management medication and other related prescriptions — as well as wheelchairs, walkers, and other medical devices. The patient and their family very rarely see a bill for these services — which leads many people to wonder, “Is hospice free?”  As a leading source of elder and hospice care information, we answer all of your pressing hospice care FAQs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hospice Care

Elderly woman smiling at senior caregiver

Is Hospice Care Free?

Hospice provides top-of-the-line care from doctors and nurses as well as access to medication and medical devices. However, the care is typically paid through Medicare following a patient’s acceptance into hospice. Entering into hospice care can actually reduce the financial burden on families as some additional costs like medical devices are covered.

Are Prescriptions Filled for Free as Well?

Prescription drugs related to the patient’s illness are covered under the hospice care umbrella, paid for by Medicare.

How Does a Patient Qualify for Hospice Care?

In order to qualify for hospice care, a patient must have a terminal illness with a doctor’s diagnosis of fewer than six months to live.

Read more about the hospice care qualifications: https://www.nhpco.org/hospice-eligibility-requirements

How Does a Patient Begin Hospice Care?

Hospice begins when the patient’s doctor makes a formal request or referral that the patient enters palliative care. Following that, hospice care begins in approximately 24 to 48 hours.

How Long Does Hospice Last?

Hospice care lasts for six months at a time—and can be stopped as needed.

Can Hospice be Renewed?

Hospice care can be renewed after six months if the referring doctor’s diagnosis still states that the patient has six months or less to live. There is no limit to the number of times hospice can be renewed.

Can a Patient Keep their Primary Care Doctor?

Yes. A primary or referring physician will work in conjunction with the hospice medical team.

Does a Patient Need to go into a Hospice Care Facility?

While hospice facilities are well-equipped and offer access to a full staff, many patients choose to receive hospice care in their own homes. Entering into a hospice facility is rarely the first step of receiving care.

Is Hospice Care 24/7?

On-call emergency care is available from on-call nurses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The on-call portion is meant to handle emergency medical occurrences.

Who is on a Hospice Staff?

Hospice teams are considered to be interdisciplinary, meaning that they are equipped to provide more than direct medical care.

A hospice team typically includes:

  • A Physician
  • Nurses
  • A Social Worker
  • A Chaplain
  • Hospice Care Aides

Caregiver washing elderly woman's hand in Lancaster & York, PA

What Do Hospice Personal Care Aides Do?

Hospice personal care aides provide support to patients by performing crucial, non-medical care. The primary duties hospice care aides perform include bathing and dressing the patient. While their services are covered under Medicare at no cost to the family, their time is generally limited to a half hour per day.

Are There Any Services Hospice Personal Care Aides Don’t Offer?

A common misconception that many people hold is that hospice care aides are available to provide in-home support or companionship. Their service is excellent, but they attend to numerous patients in a single day, so their time— and duties— are limited.

Under normal circumstances, hospice care aides don’t perform the following tasks:

  • Toileting
  • Cleaning
  • Preparing food
  • Running errands
  • Overnight care
  • Companionship & conversation

How In-Home Care Works with Hospice Care

By Your Side Home Care has a long history of working closely with hospice teams in order to keep patients supported. While the hospice care team provides the crucial medical services that keep your loved ones comfortable, their time can be limited. Families often choose to augment their medical care with our in-home care services.

Our caregivers can provide the important services that hospice caregivers and nurses don’t always have time to handle, such as cooking meals, keeping the house in order, and providing companionship. In fact, hospice organizations almost always refer families to in-home care agencies.

At By Your Side Home Care, we are proud to have earned the trust of local hospice providers—for years, they have been one of our largest referral sources. The compassionate services of By Your Side augment the fantastic care provided by the hospice team, without time restrictions. Learn more about the cost of care at By Your Side Home Care.

If you’re ready to start the conversation about augmenting your loved one’s care with By Your Side Home Care, get in contact with us today.

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