The Right Timing

“If only we had called hospice sooner…..” is a comment we often hear from families who have experienced the benefits of Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro.

It is a common misconception that hospice care is only for the last few days of life. In fact, patients and families can benefit most when they have hospice for the final weeks or months of life.

Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans provide coverage for hospice care when physicians predict a patient has six months or less to live and curative treatment is no longer being sought. Please understand that the six-month prognosis is merely a guideline. Hospice re-evaluates patients every 60 days and, as long as their conditions continue to decline, they are re-certified for hospice coverage for as long as they live.

If you are unsure whether you or your loved one is ready to benefit from hospice, please call us at 336.621.2500 or contact us online here.

Won’t doctors tell us when it’s time for hospice care?

Not always. Many physicians hesitate to broach the subject of hospice. Frequently, they will continue to pursue treatment because they assume that’s what you want. In other cases, such as congestive heart failure or COPD, it is difficult for them to predict the rate of a patient’s decline. When a doctor does mention hospice, even casually, you should discuss it immediately. In fact, he or she may actually be relieved if you bring up the subject. It is important that you understand the benefits of curative vs. comfort care, and that you and your doctor share the same goals for maintaining quality of life.

What are some signs that a person may be ready for hospice care?

• Repeated hospitalizations or trips to the ER.

• Failure to “bounce back” after medical set-backs occur.

• Increasing assistance needed for walking, eating, bathing, dressing or going to the toilet.

• An increase in pain, nausea, breathing distress or other symptoms.

• Decreasing alertness—patient is emotionally withdrawn, sleeping more or having increased difficulty with comprehension.

What are some signs that our family could benefit from hospice care?

• You are physically or emotionally exhausted from caring for your loved one.

• Your family is feeling isolated because of caregiving demands or the uncertainties you feel about your loved one’s  future.

• The patient or members of your family appear to need emotional support to cope with the impending death.

• You are overwhelmed by the myriad of physical, financial, emotional and spiritual concerns arising because of the illness.

Can a patient stop having hospice care?

Yes, patients always have the right to choose the type of care they receive. If you and your physician decide to try another approach, we will assist you in making that transition.

Can we call Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro even if we don’t think it’s “time”?

Absolutely. An important part of our mission is providing guidance to families about any end-of-life care issues, whether or not they’re in our program. You don’t need a physician referral to call us for information. If it appears that hospice care would be beneficial, we will—with your permission—contact your doctor to discuss it.

Contact us as soon as you have questions or concerns about end-of-life care options. Your physician can also contact us directly. Consultations by an HPCG nurse are available when appropriate. Our HPCG Referral Center will be glad to answer your questions. Please contact the Referral Center at 336.621.7575.