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Hospice Services

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death. Hospice staff and volunteers offer a specialized knowledge of medical care, including pain management. The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of a patient's last days by offering comfort and dignity. Hospice care is provided by a team-oriented group of specially trained professionals, volunteers and family members. Hospice addresses all symptoms of a disease, with a special emphasis on controlling a patient's pain and discomfort. Hospice deals with the emotional, social and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and the patient's family and friends. Hospice offers a variety of bereavement and counseling services to families before and after a patient's death.

Before providing care, hospice staff meets with the patient's personal physician(s) and a hospice physician to discuss patient history, current physical symptoms and life expectancy. After an initial meeting with physicians, hospice staff meets with both the patient and their family. They discuss the hospice philosophy, available services and expectations. Prior to service, staff and patients also discuss pain and comfort levels, support systems, financial and insurance resources, medications and equipment needs. A "plan of care" is developed for the patient. This plan is regularly reviewed and revised according to patient condition. Bereavement services and counseling are typically available to loved ones for a year after the patient's death.

How Do You Get Hospice Care?

First, talk to your Case Manager.

Most patients admitted to a hospice program are referred by their physicians. Others come themselves or are referred by the hospital, a community agency or by a friend or relative. Family members may request counseling from the hospice care program even if the patient does not wish to be admitted to the program. If you are interested in learning about or getting hospice care talk to your physician or contact a hospice provider in your area.

How Much Does Hospice Cost?

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, the Oregon Health Plan and private insurance. Patients may be asked to meet co-pay or other uncovered costs. However, no one will ever be turned down for financial reasons.

There are also excellent volunteer hospices available

What Services does Hospice Provide?

Hospice works in conjunction with the patient's physician providing care under a plan of treatment designed by the team in conjunction with the patient and family. Services include:

  • Intermittent home and hospital visits by nurses and other health care professionals

  • Management of pain and symptom control

  • Medical treatments as prescribed

  • Instruction and supervision of family members in patient care

  • Personal care and household services

  • Providing or arranging for respite or continuous care

  • Assistance in obtaining medical equipment, supplies or medications

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy

  • Short-term inpatient care for respite or symptom management

  • Counseling and emotional support for patient and family

  • Spiritual support

  • Companionship and practical services by lay volunteers

  • Information and guidelines regarding insurance, financial aid, in-home support and transportation agencies, community agencies

  • 24 hour, 7 day a week on-call emergency/crisis assistance

Is Hospice affiliated with any Religious Organization?

Hospice is not an off-shoot of any religion. While some churches and religions have started hospices (sometimes in connection with their hospitals), these hospices serve a broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.

Hospice and Related Organizations

Hospice Foundation of America
2001 S St. NW Suite 300, Washington DC 20009. 1-800-854-3402
http://www.hospicefoundation.org/ Email: [email protected]

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314. (703) 243-5900
http://www.nho.org/ Email: [email protected]

Volunteer Hospice Network  www.growthhouse.org/hospice.html

Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association
1996 Eastman Avenue, Ventura, CA  93003. (805) 642-0239
http://www.LivingstonVNA.org/ Email: [email protected]

Selected Readings

The ALS Association Greater Los Angeles Chapter • P.O. Box 565, Agoura Hills, CA 91376-0565, Tel: (818) 865-8067
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