Who is eligible for hospice care?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit is available to all patients with the Medicare part A benefit and with a life expectancy of six months or less if the terminal illness or disease runs its normal course. The patient, of course, must choose to elect hospice, and the patient’s eligibility must be certified by a physician (most often the hospice’s medical director, together with the patient’s attending physician). In addition, hospice care is covered by Medicaid and most commercial insurance plans.

Essence of Life Hospice accepts everyone who meets those criteria, regardless of the patient’s financial situation or insurance coverage.

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What services does hospice provide?

Hospice includes the services of an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals:

Physicians – Our Medical Directors work with your personal physician to build a comprehensive team of medical professionals who specialize in controlling pain and other symptoms of serious illness. Working together, our team develops a plan of care that is right for each patient’s individual situation and needs.

Nurses – Essence of Life nurses are experts at managing the needs of each patient and can serve as a valuable resource in educating family members on how to assist in caring for their loved one. Our specially trained and experienced nurses develop and manage a specialized plan of care for each patient, focusing on the patient’s individual needs and providing compassionate support to the entire family.

Certified Nurse Assistants – These members of the Essence of Life team provide personal care and help the patient and family with activities of daily living. They also provide companionship and valuable emotional support.

Social Workers – Our social workers coordinate community resources and help the patient and family with non-medical concerns. The social worker can help comfort and give support to family members, plan for the future, assist with making financial arrangements and ease other emotional difficulties.

Chaplains – These individuals work to help patients and families cope with spiritual questions and concerns, either directly or by coordinating services with the patient’s and family’s spiritual counselors.

Bereavement – Essence of Life has personnel available to help patients and families deal with grief through each phase of the process.

Music Therapists – Our music therapists use live music as an intervention to create an environment that allows the patient to express, create, and succeed in improving their quality of life.

Pharmacist – Our pharmacist assists with review of patient medications and provides the expertise to make complex pharmacological decisions to improve the patient’s medication profile.

Massage Therapist – This individual provides gentle touch and therapeutic massages to our patients for pain relief, improved circulation, and relaxation.

Volunteers – These team members provide companionship and emotional support and offer help in a variety of ways, included with this is pet companionship.

Hospice also provides medications, medical equipment and supplies related to the life-limiting illness and necessary to promote comfort at home or in other healthcare settings. Hospice staff are available at all times, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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When should patients and families consider hospice?

After a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, patients and their families should consider their choices for care.

A patient does not have to be bed-bound or critically ill to be admitted to hospice. An Essence of Life representative will be happy to talk with you about the hospice benefit.

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Doesn’t accepting hospice care mean giving up?

Hospice involves acknowledging that most diseases in their advanced form cannot be cured. It does not mean giving up hope. Hope is found in helping the patient and family achieve the highest possible level of physical comfort and peace of mind. Many hospice companies require patients to be “ready” for the end of life before receiving services. At Essence of Life, you don’t have to be ready. Hope means different things to different people, and we will walk by your side on the journey to live out what hope means to you.

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How is hospice different from other medical care?

Hospice is focused on all of the patient’s and family’s needs. A coordinated team of hospice professionals, assisted by volunteers, works to meet the patient’s and family’s emotional and spiritual needs, along with the patient’s physical needs.

The emphasis is on controlling pain and symptoms through the most advanced techniques available and on emotional and spiritual support tailored to the needs of the patient and family.

Hospice recognizes that a serious illness affects the entire family as well as the person who is ill. The family, not just the patient, is the “unit of care” for hospice professionals. Sometimes other family members actually need more attention than the patient.

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How is Essence of Life different from other hospices?

Essence of Life provides a plan of treatment customized to meet individual patient and family needs. We are locally owned and operated. Through our Living Dreams program, Essence of Life Hospice assists our patients to live every-day to the fullest. Many hospices require patients to have a caregiver at home, or to agree to give up expensive palliative treatments. Essence of Life believes there should be no barrier to high quality end-of-life care, admitting any eligible patient who requests hospice care and meets the medical qualifications.

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Who pays for hospice care?

Hospice is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, with few, if any, out-of-pocket costs to the patient. The Medicare hospice benefit covers costs related to the terminal illness, including the services of the hospice team, medication, medical equipment and supplies.

  • Medications. The Medicare hospice benefit covers medications needed to treat the patient’s terminal illness. Essence of Life will order the medications for you, and you can get them from the pharmacy or arrange for delivery. Medications for a condition not related to the terminal illness — allergy medication, for example — are not covered by the hospice benefit.
  • Medical supplies. The physician and nurse will work with the family to determine which medical supplies and equipment the patient needs. Essence of Life will order the equipment and have it delivered to the home.

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What are the different levels of hospice care?

Routine Home Care – We believe in bringing care to wherever you call home, and we strive to provide an environment of care that is comfortable for our patients and their families. Often, this means providing care in the patient’s own home, and our team of professionals schedule regular home visits to ensure that medical, social, and emotional needs are met. This can also mean providing care in a Nursing Facility or Assisted Living Facility.

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.

Respite Care – Many patients have their own caregivers, often family members. When caregivers need a rest from their caregiving responsibilities, patients can stay in a hospital or other inpatient care center for up to five days.

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What if I choose hospice care and then live more than six months?

Hospice care does not automatically end after six months. Medicare and most other insurers will continue to pay for hospice care as long as a physician certifies that the patient continues to have a limited life expectancy.

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What if my condition improves?

Occasionally, the quality of care provided by Essence of Life leads to substantially improved health. When this happens, Essence of Life will transfer care to a non-hospice care provider. Later, if the patient becomes eligible for hospice, the patient can re-elect the hospice benefit. There is no penalty for getting better!

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How does hospice manage pain and other symptoms?

Hospice physicians and nurses are experts at pain and symptom control. They are continually developing new protocols for keeping patients comfortable and as alert and independent as possible. They know which medications to use singly and in combination to provide the best results for each patient.

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Don’t pain control medications make people feel “doped up?”

When morphine and other pain control medications are administered properly for medical reasons, patients find much-needed relief without getting “high” or craving drugs. The result is that hospice patients often remain more alert and active because they are not exhausted by uncontrolled symptoms.

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What kinds of emotional and spiritual support does hospice provide?

Hospice recognizes that people are more than a collection of symptoms. People nearing the end of their lives often face enormous emotional and spiritual distress. They are dismayed as their physical abilities begin to fail. They don’t want to be a burden on their families. They worry how their loved ones will manage without them. Sometimes, they feel deep regret about things they have done or said – or things left undone and unsaid.

Hospice professionals and volunteers are trained to be active listeners and to help patients and families work through some of these concerns so that they can find peace and emotional comfort in their final days.

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