These Frequently Asked Questions about hospice end of life care are answered below to help clarify the care and services provided for individuals and families living with life-limiting illness. It is our hope that they will also dispel any lingering fears or myths that surround hospice care. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at if you have other questions: 800.662.8859.
Q. What is the history of hospice movement?
The present-day hospice movement was begun by Dr. Cicely Saunders who founded the first modern hospice in London in 1967. Hospital patients who were dying were taken out of isolation and provided with the best medication possible to control their pain so they and their families could address the emotional and spiritual challenges they faced.
In 1968 Florence Wald, then dean of the Yale School of Nursing, brought the idea of hospice to the United States. The hospice movement in the United States was engendered by groups of volunteers who worked tirelesesly in communities throughout the country on behalf of this holistic form of health care.
Q. How is hospice care provided today?
Hospice care is designed to alleviate pain and control the symptoms of disease so that individuals can live their lives to the fullest during whatever time remains. Medical professionals make "house calls" to deliver the care with expertise and compassion. In addition to physical care, hospice provides spiritual, social, and emotional support.
Individuals today are confronted with difficult choices about health care, particularly at the end of life. Questions of cost, availability, quality, and patient autonomy are debated by families, heath care providers, and politicians. For an increasing number of patients and families, hospice is an enlightened development in medicine, and hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private health insurance.
Q. What impact has hospice had in the United States?
In 2013 in the United States, approximately 5,800 hospices cared for over 1.5 million patients.
Hospice care is a covered benefit under most public and private health plans, including Medicare.
"While hope for a miracle cure may not be evident in hospice philosophy,” states Jay Mahoney, former president of the National Hospice Foundation, “hospice care can be an extraordinary expression of hope and individual courage.” This philosophy of hope is at the heart of the hospice movement.
Q. What is End of Life Care?
Q. What is Advance Care Planning?
As you develop an advance care plan, you will explore your options for care, reflect on those options and your values, talk with your loved ones, and finally, record and share your wishes with loved ones, physician, and others. Your plan may change over time, as your situation or wishes change.
Options for care include Palliative Care and Hospice Care, which are philosophies of care focused on quality of life, rather than length of life. Neither is limited to a location or practice, and both address the many ways illness can affect a person's life. Both are available to people of all ages and illnesses.
Q. What is Palliative Care?
Q. What is Hospice Care?
Q. What is Bereavement Care?
Q. Does hospice only take care of cancer patients?
Q. How does hospice work?
Hospice care is available also in many skilled nursing homes, rest homes, and assisted living facilities. Facility staff welcome the expert knowledge and skills of hospice staff who can assist with the particular needs of residents with end-stage illness.
Some hospices also have inpatient facilities where patients with acute medical needs are cared for by hospice trained staff and volunteers.
Q. Who is the hospice “team”?
Q. When is it time to refer a patient to hospice and who does it?
Some physicians may feel uncomfortable bringing up hospice care, so a patient or caregiver should feel free to bring up the topic. In addition to physicians, a patient, friend, family member, or pastor may make a hospice referral. An early referral enables the hospice team to develop the relationships that meet the needs of the patient and caregivers. If the patient continues to meet hospice criteria, services may continue longer than six months.
Q. What does the hospice admission process involve?
Q. Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Q. How difficult is it to care for a loved one at home who is receiving hospice care?
Q. Is a person's home the only place hospice care can be provided?
Q. How does hospice manage pain?
Q. How is hospice care funded?
If coverage is not available, hospice will help investigate other resources of which the family may not be aware. If needed, most hospices provide care regardless of insurance status, using money raised in their communities from memorials, special events, foundation gifts, and other contributions.