8 Little-Known Facts About Hospice Care That Might Surprise You
“We should have called you sooner.”
Hospice of Cincinnati (HOC) frequently hears this from the families and patients it serves. People are often reluctant to contact a hospice for support because they feel like they’re giving up, or just don’t know what hospice is all about. So, they sometimes call too late, missing out on all the benefits of hospice care.
As hospice providers like to say, calling hospice is not giving up, it’s speaking up about what you want at the end of life. Take a look at these surprising facts:
- With hospice, you may live longer.
It’s not unusual to feel better once the pain and symptoms of your illness are better controlled. According to a study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, hospice extended life an average of 29 days. By careful management and treatment of symptoms, and care for physical and emotional well-being, patients felt better, which may have given them the will and fortitude to live longer.
- Hospice is a covered benefit.
Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. HOC’s goal is to provide end-of-life services to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Hospice is for those patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less, should the disease follow its natural course. The hospice benefit provides care for the last six months of life, but sadly, 40 percent of patients are in hospice less than seven days.
- It’s not just for people with cancer.
We care for a wide range of people who have decided to no longer pursue a cure for their illness, and instead seek comfort, symptom management and quality of life. These patients have life-limiting illnesses such as end-stage heart, lung or renal disease; dementia; ALS; stroke, and neurological disorders, among others. Only 35 percent of our patients have a cancer diagnosis.
- Most hospice care occurs at home.
Hospice is not a place, but a philosophy of care that involves the patient’s entire support system. 90 percent of our patients are cared for in their home, or the place they call home, surrounded by the people and things they love. The care team comes to you — in your home, along with the equipment needed, medications and supplies, all covered under the hospice benefit. When inpatient care is needed, we also offer four inpatient centers. These centers are designed for short-term management of uncontrolled symptoms that cannot be handled in another setting, and for respite when a caregiver needs a break.
- You stay in control.
The end of life is a very personal experience with a lot of medical needs. We want to know what is most important to you and what a good day looks like to you. Together, we design the care you want, in the manner you choose, on your terms.
- Signing up doesn’t mean giving up all medical care.
We can offer therapies that better manage symptoms and provide comfort. Hospice means shifting from the goal of a longer life through treatments, to creating the best quality of life for the days you have left. You may continue to see your regular doctor, and you remain in charge of your medical decisions.
- You can change your mind.
Goals and needs may change over time. If you choose to seek aggressive medical treatment, hospice may not be for you. You have to qualify for hospice, but you can opt out at any time for as long as you like. You can opt back in later, as long as you qualify.
- Hospice is for the entire family, now and later.
The support we provide to the family lessens the burden of care and the stressfulness of death. The Goldstein Family Grief Center and Fernside – A Center for Grieving Children promote healing by providing support for 13 months after the death of your loved one. Hospice of Cincinnati offers these services free to the community, regardless of whether your loved one was cared for by HOC.
If you still aren’t sure if hospice care is right for you or your loved one, contact Hospice of Cincinnati at 513 891 7700.
We're always available to answer your questions and help you understand when hospice is appropriate, when to call and all that hospice can mean for you and your family.