Myths and Facts about Hospice Care

Myths and Facts about Hospice Care

Some people mistakenly think hospice care is just about dying…that hospice is the place you call when there’s nothing more that can be done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hospice of the Western Reserve focuses on life by bringing comfort, dignity and peace to those facing a serious illness and their families. Hospice is about living life to its fullest.

Last year the nation’s hospice providers cared for 1.56 million Americans and their families. Yet, there are many myths about hospice care that may keep people from getting the best care possible, when they need it most.

Myth: Hospice means giving up hope.

Fact: Hospice assists individuals and families transition from hope for a cure to hope for living life as fully as possible. Hope may include wanting to be as comfortable as possible, and being able to set realistic goals for what they wish to do at the end of life.

Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Fact: Hospice care is available to anyone with a serious illness and their families, regardless of diagnosis. At Hospice of the Western Reserve, fewer than half of our patients have cancer. Some other diagnoses that benefit from hospice include: cardiopulmonary disease, renal disease, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and many others.

Myth: Hospice is only for the last days of life.

Fact: Many people wait too long. Once life expectancy is months rather than years, hospice care is available. To fully benefit hospice, seek care early.

Myth: Hospice care is limited to six months.

Fact: Patients may receive hospice as long as their condition warrants continued care – something the team continually evaluates.

Myth: I cannot receive curative treatments while receiving hospice care.

Fact: Patients are free to leave the hospice program to seek curative treatments, and may return to hospice care once they have completed these treatments. Additionally, palliative care helps patients and their families who are not yet ready for hospice.

Myth: Palliative care is different than hospice care.

Fact: Palliative care addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of both patient and family. While all hospice care is palliative in nature, not all palliative care is hospice. Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Palliative Care Program helps individuals with a serious illness who are not ready for hospice care, or do not choose it. Patients who wish to continue curative treatments may do so.

Myth: The only outcome is death.

Fact: Some patients improve with hospice’s supportive care and services to the point that hospice is no longer suitable. Hospice of the Western Reserve connects with these patients through our Navigator Program, which assists in their care and wellness plans. They may leave the hospice program but can be re-admitted later if necessary.

Myth: I can’t keep my own doctor.

Fact: Patients can keep their own doctors, even after admission to hospice care.

Myth: Bereavement services are only available to families whose loved one received hospice care.

Fact: The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center at Hospice of the Western Reserve provides bereavement support to anyone dealing with a loss due to death, whether or not hospice was used.

Myth: Only a physician can refer an individual to a hospice program.

Fact: Anyone can call Hospice of the Western Reserve at 800-707-8921 to make a referral.

Myth: Hospice is a place.

Fact: While Hospice of the Western Reserve does have a 42-bed facility, most hospice care is delivered in the home or wherever the patient lives (hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, group home, etc.)

Myth: Hospice is expensive.

Fact: Hospice care is billed to Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurers, however no one is turned away from Hospice of the Western Reserve  – regardless of ability to pay.