1. When should a decision about entering the Mission Hospice Program be made and who should make it?
At any time during a life-limiting illness, it is appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. By law, the decision to go on hospice care belongs to the patient to make the choice to join hospice care, but Mission Hospice also accepts patients whose communication is impaired and who currently have a life-expectancy of six months or less, as long as referred by their personal physician or a physician caring for the patient in a hospital.
2. Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice care at Mission Hospice, or should I raise it myself?
The patient and family should feel free to discuss the possibility of hospice care at any time with their physician or other health care professionals, along with clergy or friends.
3. Can a Mission Hospice patient who does not demonstrate a decline in their physical condition be returned to regular medical treatment?
Absolutely, if the patient’s condition improves and the disease does not seem to be worsening, patients can be discharged from Mission Hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on with their daily lives. In the event that the discharged patient should later need to return, Medicare, Medi-Cal or insurance will allow the patient to return to hospice care for further treatment.
4. What does the Mission Hospice admission process involved?
One of the first things we do is contact the patient’s physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient. Mission Hospice has medical staff available to help patients who have no physician or who request a change in physician. The patient will be asked to sign the consent forms if able. If the patient is unable to sign the consent forms due to his/her physical condition, then another family member or DPOA (Durable Power of Attorney) for Health Care will be asked to sign. The hospice consent form from Medicare and Medi-Cal also explains how electing the hospice benefit may affect other coverage.
5. Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
Mission Hospice will assess, recommend, arrange and cover any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal in early stages of care, but usually increases as the patient’s condition deteriorates. Mission Hospice endeavors to make hospice care as convenient and safe as possible for the patients and their families.
6. Do I have to be homebound to receive hospice services?
No! Hospice is about living to the fullest and we encourage patients to continue to do what they enjoy. The Mission Hospice team assists patients and families in achieving their goals as much as possible whether they be exploring the world or doing something that they always wanted to do, but never had the time before.
7. What specific assistance does Mission Hospice provide patients?
Mission Hospice patients are cared for by a team consisting of a physician, a nurse, social workers, counselors, home health aides, spiritual counselors, therapists and volunteers; each of whom provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, Mission Hospice provides medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the illness.
8. Does Mission Hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying for the patients as it is our mission to provide a comfortable end to their lives, free of pain and emotional distress. Just as health care personnel provide support and expertise during child birth, hospice provides its specialized knowledge during the process of passing on.
9. Is caring for the patient at home the only place Mission Hospice care can be delivered?
No, Mission Hospice patients can receive care in their personal residences, as well as long term care facilities such as skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities or a Board and Care.
10. Mission Hospice provide 24-hour in home care?
Staff members are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions and visit anytime should the need for support arise. As well as direct visits, our staff can also teach a family member or caregiver how to appropriately care for a patient.
Mission Hospice provides bedside care if the patient is experiencing out of control symptoms. During this time, the family is being taught how to appropriately care for the patient, thus bedside hospice care will not be ongoing for an extended period of time.
11. Can the patient go back to the hospital if they are on hospice care?
Yes; however the Mission Hospice Team can provide emergency room type care should the patient’s symptoms become uncontrollable, while also minimizing the stress that would come with hospitalization. This level of care comes under the scope of our continuous care services.
12. How does Mission Hospice manage pain?
Mission Hospice nurses and physicians are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief of our patients. Also, Mission Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pains are just as real as physical pain, and require just as much attention. Spiritual Counselors and Social Workers are available as needed to address the emotional and spiritual pain experienced by the patient and family.
13. How successful is Mission hospice at controlling pain?
Mission Hospice has a high success rate in subduing a patient’s pain. Using a combination of medication and counseling from our well-trained staff, most patients attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them. A large percentage of patients in pain are controlled without the use of injections or IV’s.
14. Will pain medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what is happening?
Some patients experience increased sleepiness when first taking certain medications as a result of their ability to rest more comfortably. If the patient’s drowsiness is a direct aftereffect of the medication, then this condition usually improves within three days. Mission Hospice will stay in contact with the patient and family to help meet their goals and if the patient would like to forgo the medication because of the after-effects then we will usually grant the patient’s request.
15. Is Hospice Care covered by insurance?
Hospice coverage is widely available among insurances. Hospice Care is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medi-Cal in California and by most private insurance providers. If you’re not sure that your insurance covers for hospice care, then Mission Hospice can assist in determining your eligibility for the Hospice benefit under your insurance.
16. If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be any additional expense to be paid?
The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services for a life-limiting illness. This benefit covers almost all aspects of hospice care with little expense to the patient or family.
17. Does Mission Hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Yes, if the families want us to stay in contact; the staff at Mission Hospice is more than happy to have follow-up calls and meetings. We can also continue to provide contact and support for the patient’s family and caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one.
18. Is the decision for hospice care giving up hope or waiting to die?
No. Hospice is about living. Mission Hospice strives to bring the best quality of life and comfort to a patient and their family, and it is our responsibility to help a patient and family live fully for as long as possible. Often patients will feel well enough to be active because of the pain and symptom management conducted by Mission Hospice. Hospice is an experience of care and support, different from any other type of care.