Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice Care

What is hospice?
Who is eligible for hospice?
Where is hospice care provided?
Who provides hospice care at Health Essentials?
What specific hospice services are available at Health Essentials?
Can the patient keep his or her own primary care physician?
Is Health Essentials affiliated with any religious organization?
What does a chaplain do?
What role does the patient's family play?
Must someone be with the patient at all times?
How often will the patient see the hospice team?
Will my advance directives be honored by Health Essentials?
How can a patient enrolled in hospice services help their family?
How does Health Essentials help the family members after the loss of their loved one?
What if we have a question or emergency after business hours?
What are the different levels of hospice care?
What if I change my mind and want to discontinue hospice care?
Isn't hospice only recommended for patients who are in the last few days of their life?
Why do you call your program the Sacred Art of Caring?




What is hospice?

Hospice is a special kind of care designed to help patients with serious and life-limiting illnesses live as alert, comfortable, and pain-free as their illness allows, while providing emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their families. Hospice makes no attempt to speed or delay death, but rather, focuses on the patient's comfort and quality of life, while accepting that dying is simply a natural part of the process.

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Who is eligible for hospice?

Anyone who has been diagnosed by their physician as having a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less may enter a hospice program. This does not mean that care will only be provided for six months; hospice services can be provided as long as the person's physician and hospice team certifies that their condition remains life-limiting.

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Where is hospice care provided?

Hospice care can be provided wherever the patient resides, whether in their own home or that of a family member, or an assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility, or board and care facility. We strongly believe that patients fare best in the places where they are most familiar and comfortable. As a result, Health Essentials' hospice services are provided on an in-home basis, wherever the patient currently calls home.

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Who provides hospice care at Health Essentials?

The hospice team at Health Essentials consists of a compassionate group of health care professionals – the patient's attending physician, hospice medical director, nurse, home health aide, social worker, spiritual care counselor – and trained volunteers. The team employs proven methods of pain control and symptom management based on the needs of the patient, while working closely with the patient, their family, and the patient's attending physician to develop an individualized plan of care that helps the patient meet their goals for living the last months of their life.

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What specific hospice services are available at Health Essentials?

Health Essentials will provide the following services as part of hospice care:

  • Physician and nursing care

  • Medication for pain control and symptom management

  • Medical supplies relating to the hospice diagnosis

  • Durable medical equipment relating to the hospice diagnosis

  • Counseling (spiritual, emotional, dietary)

  • Therapists (speech, physical, occupational)

  • Short-term inpatient and respite care

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Can the patient keep his or her own primary care physician?

Yes. In fact, the patient's primary care physician will play a vital role on our hospice team. He/she will work closely with our team to develop a plan of care that best meets your individual needs, as well as the needs of your caregivers and loved ones. In addition, members of the Health Essentials hospice team will keep your doctor regularly informed as to your condition and any changes that may be taking place.

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Is Health Essentials affiliated with any religious organization?

Our hospice care is not affiliated with any religion and does not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs; however the nature of our philosophy encompasses spiritual issues. Addressing spirituality is a personal decision and Health Essentials always respects the rights of our patients and families on this matter.

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What does a chaplain do?

For patients who are interested, Health Essentials' chaplains, or spiritual counselors, are available to talk about spiritual concerns. They do not preach at you, judge you, or try to convert you; they seek to offer spiritual care, respecting your own views of life. Drawing on the patient's own beliefs and values, our chaplains offer support to people of any faith background and help patients find comfort and answers that fit their own beliefs.

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What role does the patient's family play?

Health Essentials believes the support of the patient's family is invaluable in maintaining a positive outlook and the best possible quality for life for the patient. As a result, we strive to keep family members fully informed and involved in every aspect of the decision-making process, and offer various counseling programs for family members. And for our purposes, family is anyone the patient designates as such, related or not.

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Must someone be with the patient at all times?

In the early weeks of hospice care, it's usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. However, as the disease progresses, the staff at Health Essentials generally recommend someone be there continuously since one of the most common fears of patients is dying alone. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, hospices provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers. While no one from Health Essentials will move into your home, we will work with you to establish a frequency of visits from your hospice care team members that meets your unique needs.

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How often will the patient see the hospice team?

The plan of care developed by one's primary care physician and the hospice team will determine the number and duration of visits frequency from the various members of the Health Essentials team. This plan will evolve to meet the patient's changing needs. In addition, the hospice nurse is available by phone for medical advice or for emergency visits 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Will my advance directives be honored by Health Essentials?

Yes, it is your right to choose your advance directives and we respect the rights of our patients to make choices about their health care. We do not require a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order and we will review all options with you.

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How can a patient enrolled in hospice services help their family?

We encourage patients enrolled in hospice to talk about their fears, be open, and share their wishes with their family to help their loved ones provide the desired care rather than have to speculate on behalf of the patient. Attending to necessary business matters, such as advance directives, final arrangements, and financial matters can be very helpful. The Health Essentials hospice team is here to help you and your loved ones with any of these matters, among many others.

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How does Health Essentials help the family members after the loss of their loved one?

Health Essentials' grief specialists, spiritual care counselors, and trained volunteers provide bereavement services following the death of a loved one. Individual support, family meetings, support groups, home visits and telephone contact are options. Services are available to all community members experiencing a loss.

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What if we have a question or emergency after business hours?

We understand that problems can occur anytime of the day or night. We provide you with emergency contact numbers to office lines that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer any questions or direct your calls to the right people. Please contact your local Health Essentials office.

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What are the different levels of hospice care?

Hospice care recognizes that different patients require different levels of care. A hospice patient can move from one level to another and back, depending on the services required to fulfill his or her individual needs – in the location that is most appropriate and comfortable. These levels of hospice care include:

  • Routine Home Care: A patient will be placed at this level of care if he or she resides at home, or wherever the patient calls home, and does not have symptoms which are out of control. Our team of health care professionals schedule regular home visits to ensure that medical, social, and emotional needs are met. The needs of the patient determine the number of visits from hospice staff members. At this level of care, the patient has access to an on-call hospice nurse 24 hours a day.

  • Continuous Care: Sometimes a patient has a medical crisis that needs close medical attention. When this happens, we can arrange for inpatient care, or the Health Essentials caregiving team can provide round-the-clock care in the home. When the crisis is over, the patient can return to routine care in the home.

  • Respite Care: Many hospice patients have their own caregivers, often times family members. A patient may be moved to this level of care when their loved ones need a break. Respite care allows a patient to be temporarily placed in a facility. Many patients have their own caregivers, often family members. When caregivers need a break from their caregiving responsibilities, patients can stay in a hospital or other inpatient care center for up to five days.

  • Inpatient Care: If pain or symptoms cannot be controlled at home, the patient might be taken to a hospital or other inpatient care center. When the symptoms are under control, the patient can return home.

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What if I change my mind and want to discontinue hospice care?

Hospice is a completely voluntary program, and patients may leave at any time, for any reason. However, patients can always resume hospice care as long as they meet the eligibility requirements and are certified by the physicians and hospice team involved.

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Isn't hospice only recommended for patients who are in the last few days of their life?

No. The most common comment we hear from patients and their families is, "I wish I had started hospice sooner." Many individuals are not aware of how soon they can begin benefiting from the full range of hospice services offered at Health Essentials. Hospice can begin months before the last few days of life. Because of our expert pain and symptom management, as well as emotional support, many patients and families who enlist our compassionate care experience less pain and stress and more quality time with their loved ones. Developing a close relationship with every member of our hospice team allows us to provide patients and their families with the full range of compassionate services available.

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Why do you call your program the Sacred Art of Caring?

At Health Essentials, we truly believe that caring for our patients, their loved ones, and our partners is our highest calling, a duty and privilege we hold sacred and are honored to fulfill. From the highest levels of the company through every nurse, physician, pharmacist, staff member and volunteer, our family is devoted to supporting you, not when it is convenient for us, but whenever and wherever you need us.

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