At Agapé Hospice, we strive to educate on hospice and palliative care in addition to providing our services. To help dispel the stigma and misinformation surrounding hospice, we are debunking some common hospice myths and explaining the facts.
Patients and their families often tell us “We wish we had called hospice sooner.” Once they experience hospice, they better understand the benefits and how it differs – focusing on comfort and quality of life. Unfortunately there are many misperceptions in the general public about hospice. This can delay people from exploring hospice options when they or their loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Here Are 15 Common Myths and True Facts About Hospice Care:
MYTH: Hospice is a place.
FACT: Hospice is not a place but a form of high-quality care for those nearing the end of life.The philosophy behind hospice focuses on improving the person’s quality of life and level of daily comfort. This care not only involves the patient’s physical needs but also emotional, social, and spiritual needs as well.
Hospice can be provided in many places, such as in the patient’s home, a nursing home, or an assisted living home. Wherever the patient resides and calls home.
MYTH: Hospice means giving up.
FACT: Hospice does not mean giving up hope.Rather, it redefines hope for patients and their families by maximizing quality of life (based on the patient’s individual preferences) allowing them to make the most of the time they have; living as fully as possible.
Choosing hospice and palliative care is not giving up, but instead choosing to live the remainder of life more comfortably. Hospice can extend the patient’s life by making them more comfortable and facilitating meaningful interactions with their loved ones. Many families are grateful for this precious time together, and for the knowledge that the person had a more peaceful death.
MYTH: Hospice is only for the last few days of life.
FACT: Someone is generally eligible to begin hospice when they have been diagnosed with six months or less to live, if their illness follows its typical course. Individual cases may vary.
According to a 2018 report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the average length of service for Medicare patients enrolled in hospice was 76 days and the median length of service was 24 days.
Beginning hospice care does not mean you’re going to die immediately. Hospice does not hasten death. Choosing hospice means the patient has decided to go from seeking a cure to managing symptoms and focusing on the best quality of life.
According to NHPCO: “Among the patient populations studied, the mean survival was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for non-hospice patients. In other words, patients who chose hospice care lived an average of one month longer than similar patients who did not choose hospice care.”
MYTH: Once a patient is in hospice care, they can’t get off it.
FACT: A patient can always change their mind and get off hospice care. Whether their condition improves or not — hospice is a choice, never an obligation.
If a patient has left hospice care, the option to reapply for hospice always remains open. Medicare allows individuals to use the benefit multiple times.
MYTH: Entering hospice means giving up all medical treatment and medications.
FACT: Hospice and palliative care can begin at the same time and run concurrently with any medical treatments for the patient’s illness.
Patients still receive care, treatments, and medications to lessen pain and other symptoms in hospice.
Our Agapé Hospice staff can even bring the patient’s medications into the home from the pharmacy and administer them.
MYTH: Entering hospice means the patient will no longer see their primary physician.
FACT: Agapé Hospice works closely with the patient’s primary physician (and any specialists as appropriate) as a member of the care team. This primary physician will still oversee the patient’s plan of care and any follow-up decisions.
The patient can continue to see their primary care physician while receiving hospice care.
MYTH: The physician, hospital, or social worker will select the hospice agency for the patient.
FACT: It is the patient’s choice (or their designated decision-maker) of which hospice agency they’d like to use and when to begin care. A physician or social worker may suggest hospice options but the final decision is up to the patient.
It’s important to take control of your healthcare options during this end-of-life journey and choose the hospice that best fits your desires and needs.
MYTH: You need a physician’s referral to enter hospice.
FACT: Anyone can make a referral to hospice. If an individual, family member, or loved one believes a patient could benefit from hospice, they can make a referral which will then be followed by a doctor’s assessment and order to qualify the patient for hospice.
MYTH: Hospice is only for cancer patients.
FACT: Hospice care is provided for those with any end-stage illness such as kidney or liver disease, cardiopulmonary disease, AIDS, neurological conditions, stroke (cerebral vascular accidents), or cancer.
MYTH: Hospice is only for those who can accept death.
FACT: Hospice and palliative care is for any person with a terminal illness. Whether they are struggling with death or not, Agapé Hospice gently helps our patients through this end-of-life journey at their own pace, on their own terms.
MYTH: Hospice means giving up control of your care.
FACT: Hospice and palliative care increases the quality of life for patients with a life limiting disease. Hospice is not forced upon anyone and the patient always has the right to request or refuse specific services.
MYTH: You must sign a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order upon entering hospice.
FACT: A DNR is not a requirement of hospice. It is a legal document that some hospice patients choose to include in their healthcare directive but it is not required. Agapé Hospice is completely non-judgmental and here to provide comfort and support for our patients no matter how their end-of-life journey looks.
MYTH: Hospice is expensive.
FACT: Fortunately, hospice is covered by Medicare as well as by most private insurance plans.
Medicare’s hospice benefit for patients over 65 covers virtually all hospice services so there is little or no out-of-pocket cost. This can include nursing, social work, spiritual support, and certified home health aides. As well as bereavement counseling after the patient has passed.
Medical supplies, medical equipment, and medications are a fully covered benefit under Medicare Part A and the Medi-Cal program in California. (Medications provided must be directly related to the hospice primary diagnosis.)
MYTH: Hospice is scary.
FACT: While facing one’s own death is frightening to many people, Agapé Hospice offers compassion, comfort, and extended support to help patients and their loved ones through this end-of-life experience.
Our palliative services include supporting the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient, which can be very meaningful when facing a life-limiting illness.
MYTH: Hospice care officially ends with the patient’s passing.
FACT: Hospice care does not end with the patient’s passing. At Agapé Hospice, bereavement and grief support services are included for the family for at least a full year after the patient has passed away.
Agapé Hospice is currently accepting patients in LA & Orange County California.
Contact us on our website to inquire about hospice and palliative care for your loved one or to reach out with any questions.