Hospice FAQs

Who is eligible for hospice?

Hospice is devoted to caring for terminally ill individuals whose life expectancy has been measured in months rather than years. Hospice care is appropriate when a cure is no longer a realistic expectation. Under hospice care, the desired goals are to maximize patient comfort and improve the quality of life.


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What is the role of the patient's own doctor?

The patient's primary care physician remains in charge of the patient’s medical care. He or she consults with the hospice team about any medical course of action.


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Should I wait for my physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends. Anyone can call our office for information regarding hospice care: 888-724-7123.


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What if my physician doesn't know about hospice?

Most physicians know about hospice. If your physician wants more information he or she can call any of our intake departments. Additional information can be obtained from the National Council of Hospice Professionals Physician Section, medical societies, state hospice organizations, or the National Hospice Helpline.


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When is the right time for a patient to enter the hospice program?

It can be difficult to decide when to start hospice. When curative treatment is no longer an option, hospice care is the fitting choice to complement ongoing medical care. Since hospice focuses on comfort and support, the decision to enter the hospice program is best made early enough to benefit from all services. The six month prognosis is approximate and patients are re-evaluated periodically by the hospice team. Sometimes, patients remain on hospice care beyond six months.


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What does the hospice admission process involve?

One of the first things the hospice program will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees with hospice care. The patient will then be approached by hospice team members who will explain what hospice can and cannot do. The patient or caregiver signs a consent form and other documents. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital.


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Who pays for hospice care?

Medicare, most Medicaid programs and many commercial insurers pay for Hospice Care.


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How often does a member of the hospice team visit a patient?

The hospice nurse makes regularly scheduled visits based on the patient's needs. Our on-call nurses are available 24-hours a day for crisis situations. The social worker, chaplain and volunteers visit regularly. Home health aides visit for personal care.


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What specific assistance does hospice provide?

Hospice patients are cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, volunteers, and home health aides. Each provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, hospice provides medications, supplies, equipment, and services, related to the terminal illness.


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Where is hospice care delivered?

Although many hospice patients are cared for in a personal residence, some patients live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.


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Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

Certainly. If the patient's condition improves, patients can be discharged from hospice. If the discharged patient later requires hospice care, Medicare and most Medicaid and private insurance companies will approve coverage for additional hospice care.


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Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.


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Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?

No. While some churches and religious groups have started hospices, these programs serve a broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs. RWJBarnabas Health does provide faith-based services to compliment hospice care when requested.


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How is Hospice Care funded?

In addition to insurance reimbursement, hospice depends on community financial support, including gifts from individuals, corporate and foundation grants, memorial gifts, bequests and fund-raising events.


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Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?

Hospice provides support for caregivers for 13 months following the death of a loved one. Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Center or Barnabas Health Van Dyke Hospice also sponsors bereavement groups for anyone in the community who has experienced a loss.


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How can I help?

Become a hospice volunteer, join the Friends of Hospice, support fund-raising events, give memorial gifts, tell others about hospice care or call our Speaker's Bureau to address your community group.

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