Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice Care

What is hospice care?

Hospice is a philosophy of care. It treats the person rather than the disease and focuses on quality of life. Hospice care surrounds the patient and family with a team who not only addresses physical distress, but emotional and spiritual issues as well. Our philosophy of hospice care is to alleviate physical discomfort while providing emotional, spiritual and bereavement support to the terminally ill patient and their family.

Who can receive hospice care?

Hospice care offers patients the opportunity to live life more fully with control, comfort and dignity. Whether it’s for one month or six, Ascend Hospice’s team of professionals will provide you or your loved one with exceptional medical care as well as strong emotional and spiritual support. Hospice care provides comfort and support for patients with all types of illnesses including cancer; heart, lung, vascular, kidney and neuromuscular diseases; all types of dementia; and AIDS. If you feel that you or a loved one may benefit from hospice care, Ascend Hospice is only a phone call away. A member of our experienced team can work with you and your physician to determine if hospice care is right for you or your loved one.

Where can hospice services be provided?

Hospice services can be provided to a person wherever he or she resides – at home, a personal care home, an assisted living facility, a nursing facility or an acute hospital.

How does hospice care work?

In most cases, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and helps make decisions for a loved one. The caregiver works with the professional, experienced members of the hospice care team to develop a patient-centered plan of care to provide treatment, support, personal care and a number of specialized services for both the patient and family. At Ascend, our hospice care team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance in managing your individual needs. The hospice care team includes:

  • Patient and family
  • Attending physician
  • Hospice care physician
  • Hospice care nurses
  • Home health aides
  • Social workers
  • Physical, speech and occupational therapists
  • Volunteers
  • Spiritual counselors
  • Bereavement counselors

Isn’t using hospice like giving up?

Not at all! Although your loved one’s condition may have reached a point that a cure is not likely –or not likely enough to be worth the side effects of treatment – that does not mean there is nothing left to do. In fact, an emphasis on quality of life and easing pain and distress often allows the patient to spend his or her last months focusing on the things that are ultimately the most important and meaningful. With the expert guidance of a nurse case manager and assistance from hospice aides, social workers and chaplains, both patients and families find they can focus on their relationships, healing old wounds and building wonderful memories together. Far from giving up, hospice helps families find hope in quality of life while supporting each other during a stressful, but in the end, very natural family life transition.

Once you begin hospice care, can you leave the program?

A person may sign out of the hospice program for a variety of reasons, such as resuming aggressive curative treatment or pursuing experimental measures. If a patient shows signs of recovery and no longer meets the six-month guideline, he or she can be discharged from hospice care and return to the program when the illness has progressed at a later time.

How does hospice keep the patient comfortable?

Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain. Hospice nurses and doctors are up-to-date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief to treat physical pain. For emotional pain, physical and occupational therapists can assist patients to be as mobile and self-sufficient as they wish, and they are sometimes joined by specialists/volunteers schooled in music therapy, art therapy, massage and diet counseling. Finally, various counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members and patients in treatment of spiritual pain.

Does the attending physician remain part of the care of the patient on hospice services?
The patient’s attending physician is part of the Ascend Hospice team and remains responsible for and coordinates care of the patient with the rest of the Ascend Hospice team.

How often will the hospice team visit?

Every person receiving hospice services has access to the complete hospice team, consisting of a registered nurse, social worker, hospice aide, spiritual counselor, hospice volunteer and bereavement counselor. The frequency of visits is based on the patient’s and family’s individualized needs as described in the patient centered plan of care and may change or evolve over time as the patient’s and family’s needs change.