What is Hospice?

Hospice is a special way of caring for patients’ who no longer benefit from curative treatment and have a limited life expectancy. Hospice care is designed to provide comfort and support for the patient and their family. Hospice affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. Emphasis is on helping the person make the most of each hour and each day of their remaining life by providing comfort and relief from pain and other symptoms.

People who choose hospice are not “giving up.” Hospice neither hastens death, nor prolongs life. Hospice provides personalized services and a supportive care team so that patients and families can prepare for a death in a way that is satisfactory to them. The goal of the hospice team is to be sensitive and responsive to the special requirements of each individual and family

Hospice is primarily a concept of care, not a specific place of care. More than 80 percent of hospice care in the United States occurs in the home. Care is also available to patients who reside in group homes, Assisted Living facilities and Skilled Nursing facilities. Some hospices offer in-patient facilities.


Hospice Care At a Glance

Common Admitting Diagnoses of Hospice Patients

Do you believe that hospice care is only for those with a cancer diagnosis? While cancer was originally the most prevalent hospice diagnosis, today, more and more people with non-cancer diagnoses are being admitted for hospice care. In 2006, for the first time, less than 50% of the patients admitted to hospice had a cancer diagnosis. Since its inception, SouthernCare has focused on providing care for patients with non-cancer diagnoses. Listed below are common diagnoses of patients receiving hospice care:

  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Alzheimers
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA – Stroke)
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • End Stage Dementia
  • End Stage Degenerative Neurological Diseases (Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, etc.)
  • End Stage Renal Disease
  • General Debility/Failure to Thrive
  • Liver Disease
  • HIV/AIDs
  • Renal Failure

In fact, most elderly hospice patients demonstrate more than one chronic debilitating condition. SouthernCare’s skilled Admission Coordinators work with the patient’s physician to evaluate if your loved one qualifies for hospice services.

Admission Criteria

  • Patient is certified by their physician as having a life limiting medical condition with a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease runs its normal course.
  • Consent of the patient and family
  • Agreement that treatment goals will shift from aggressive, curative care to supportive palliative care
  • Patient’s care regimen will focus on comfort, pain management and symptom control

Services provided by Hospice

Hospice care is tailored to meet the special needs of each patient. Among the services hospice provides:

  • 24 hour support by phone or personal visit
  • Physician Care – Medical Management
  • Direct Nursing Care
  • Home Care Aides for bathing and other personal services
  • Homemaker Services
  • Social Services
  • Spiritual Counseling
  • Volunteer Services
  • Symptom Management (pain & other symptoms)
  • Medications related to the Hospice Diagnosis
  • Medical Equipment (wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen, etc)
  • Medical Supplies (incontinent supplies, nutritional supplements)
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Respite Care
  • Bereavement Support following the patient’s death

Payment for Hospice Services

Hospice services are paid for in a variety of ways. Hospice is 100% covered by Medicare for all patients with the Medicare Part A benefit for any services related to the hospice diagnosis.  As of 2006, many states offer hospice care as a covered Medicaid benefit. Most private insurance plans offered by employers offer a hospice benefit. SouthernCare does not decline admission to patients who meet hospice criteria regardless of ability to pay.

Hospice staff will file all insurance claims, evaluate your eligibility for financial aid and answer any questions about insurance coverage and payment.

Hospice Care Settings

Hospice is not a place – it is a philosophy of care which emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to patient care and allows the patient to remain in their home environment during their final days. Hospice provides physical, emotional and spiritual support to patients and families wherever they call home. This care may be provided in a private home, a group home, assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility. Some patients and their families may choose to receive care during their final days in an inpatient setting with hospice support.



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