Making The Decision

When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made and who should make it?

At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping aggressive efforts to “beat” the disease. Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them with the patient and family.

Should I wait for our 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.

If hospice isn't appropriate for your loved one, please consider Passages Palliative Care. Passages Palliative Care can be provided at anytime, even while the person is receiving curative treatment.

What if our physician doesn’t know about hospice?

Most physicians know about hospice. If your physician wants more information about hospice, it is available from the National Council of Hospice Professionals Physician Section, medical societies, state hospice organizations, or the National Hospice Helpline, 1-800-658-8898 or you can contact Passages Hospice directly at 1-888-741-8985. In addition, physicians and all others can obtain information on hospice from the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Social Security Administration.

What does the hospice admission process involve?

One of the first things Passages will do is contact the patient’s physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient at this time.  Passages has medical staff and social workers available to help patients who have no physician. Passages staff will guide the patient and family through all available services and help complete the required forms as outlined by the Medicare hospice benefit.

The “hospice election form” says that the patient understands that the care is palliative (that is, aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.

Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice care can be delivered?

No. Hospice patients may receive care wherever they reside, including their personal residence, skilled nursing facility, assisted living residence, or hospital unit.

Is Passages affiliated with any religious organization?

No. Chaplains are available in a variety of different religions and denominations to serve each patient’s belief system. Regardless of religious beliefs, spiritual and emotional support from our chaplain services are offered and can help restore dignity, hope, purpose and meaning as patients reflect over their life.