Hospice Myths vs. Facts
1. Myth: Hospice care is only for people giving up on life.
Fact: Ultimately, hospice is not about dying. It is about helping patients live life to the fullest, with the time they have left. Multiple research studies show those with a terminal illness who choose hospice often live longer and have a better quality of life than those who choose aggressive end-of-life medical care.
2. Myth: Choosing hospice means giving up control.
Fact: You are always in control of the level of your care and may come off of hospice at any time. Patients and families make the final decision about when to choose hospice and who provides care. The best care happens when we listen first and coordinate with the patient, family and your doctor.
3. Myth: Hospice care is expensive.
Fact: Hospice is a fully funded Medicare/Medicaid benefit, unlimited in length, and is covered by many private insurance companies. Most plans cover hospice care, medications, supplies and equipment related to the hospice diagnoses with no out-of-pocket expenses to the patient. Care includes visits from nurses and other health care professionals, social services, certain therapies and spiritual counseling. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs also covers hospice care for veterans.
4. Myth: Hospice happens at a hospital or hospice facility.
Fact: Hospice is provided anywhere a patient calls home. Often that’s in the patient’s home or the home of a family member, but it could also be a nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital.
5. Myth: Once you decide on hospice, you can’t go back.
Fact: Patients can revoke hospice participation at any time. Their medical condition may improve or a patient may decide to pursue curative treatment again. Patients can reapply for hospice benefits at a later time, if necessary.
6. Myth: Hospice care is only for people with a few days or weeks to live.
Fact: While hospice certainly helps patients and families during a medical crisis, the fullest benefit occurs when pain and symptoms are managed and patients have time to make personal and spiritual connections.
7. Myth: Only a doctor can refer someone for hospice care.
Fact: It is important for patients and families to know that anyone can make a referral to hospice. Family, clergy and others can refer a patient, then request a doctor’s order.
8. Myth: Hospice care ends with the passing of the patient.
Fact: Bereavement or grief support is an important part of hospice.
9. Myth: Hospice is only for people with cancer.
Fact: Hospice is for patients of any age with a prognosis of six months to live or less. Diagnoses for hospice admission may include cancer, dementia, heart disease, lung disease, stroke or coma.
10. Myth: Hospice and palliative care are the same.
Fact: Both provide comfort care during a serious illness. Hospice only begins after the decision to end treatment for a terminal illness and when it’s clear the person will not survive. Palliative care can begin at diagnosis, and happen at the same time as treatment.