What is Hospice Care?

Choosing hospice does not mean giving up. Instead, it allows those suffering from terminal illness to focus on those things that mean the most to them. Hospice can help people live their life to the fullest in their final months. Hospice also provides support to families who are helping care for others.

At Hospice of the Twin Cities, we work with patients wherever they call home, making visits to nursing homes, private homes, assisted living facilities and group homes.

When is the right time for hospice?

Hospice is available to anyone who has a life expectancy of six months or less and has chosen comfort care, which treats symptoms as they arise, instead of curative care, which is focused on curing a disease. The prognosis is based on your physician’s judgment. That does not mean that a person can only receive hospice care for six months. Care is available for those who choose to receive it as their disease continues to progress.

 Hospice is available to patients of all ages with a variety of life-limiting illnesses, including:

  •  Heart Disease
  • Lung Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cancer
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Multiple chronic illnesses
  • Other conditions related to aging

Who is on the hospice team?

A hospice team is made up of highly skilled professionals. Hospice staff will work closely with your physician to develop a plan of care tailored to meet your physical, emotional and spiritual needs, offering comfort and compassionate care when it matters most.

 The services of your hospice team may include:

  •  Registered Nurses and licensed practical nurses, who are available for support and to assist in providing comfort, managing symptoms, coordinating services and providing education to you and your family.
  • Hospice physicians, who are available to consult with nursing staff, as well as other physicians.
  • Licensed social workers, who provide social and emotional support, as well as counseling and referral services for community services and programs.
  • Home health aides and homemakers, who assist with personal care and light housekeeping.
  • Spiritual care counselors, or chaplains, who are available to offer emotional and spiritual support.
  • Music therapists, pet therapists and massage therapists, who add to quality of life through pain management, symptom management and relaxation.
  • Bereavement care counselors, who offer support services before, during and for at least 13 months after the death of a loved one. Services include mailings, phone calls, support groups and counseling.

Can I stay with my regular physician and still receive hospice care?

Yes. Hospice of Twin Cities does not require patients to switch physicians in order to receive hospice care. Instead, our hospice staff works with patients’ primary physicians to figure out how to meet their needs. A hospice medical director will work with your physician, but not replace them. Other hospice program may prefer that you see a doctor in their network but with Hospice of the Twin Cities it is not required.

 How is hospice care paid for?

Most of the time the cost of hospice care is covered in full and there is no cost to the patient. Sometimes hospice can even reduce expenses for the patient.

Medicare/Medical Assistance – Hospice is a covered benefit under Medicare. Not only does it cover the cost of the professional services, it also provides coverage for medications, supplies and equipment needed to manage the symptoms associated with your illness. Hospice of the Twin Cities does not charge any fees related to prescriptions, equipment or respite care. Minnesota also provides a hospice benefit under Medical Assistance which is very similar to the Medicare Benefit. If you are enrolled in Medical Assistance, recipient responsibilities (spend down) still apply.

Private Insurance – Most health care insurance policies also pay for hospice care. Coverage by insurance will vary depending on the plan. Your deductibles and co-pays will likely still apply.

Veteran’s Benefits – If you are enrolled to receive health care services from the Veteran’s Administration, you are eligible for hospice care through the VA. This benefit is similar to the Medicare benefit. If you are a veteran who does not currently receive health care services through the VA, you may be eligible to receive Hospice services through the VA after a brief application process.

Private Pay – If insurance coverage is not available or insufficient, hospice of the Twin Cities will work with you and discuss options for payments.

How does hospice care help the patient’s family?

Those with serious illnesses may be concerned about family members and other loved ones. Hospice is there to support and assist the families of patients, both during the course of their illness and in the months to follow.

Family caregivers are important in hospice care. Being a caregiver can be very challenging. Hospice offers education about how to provide the gift of caring for a loved one as well as support in those challenging times.

Hospice also provides grief support for loved one when you are no longer with them. The grief support specialist from the Hospice team will offer a variety of options so family members can begin and continue their journey of healing.

 How do I start hospice care?

If you have questions about hospice, someone from our team can speak with you to help you decide if hospice is the right choice for you. This is a free service and there is no obligation. It is important to have the information you need to make the decision that is right for you and your family. If you choose hospice care, we will follow up by contacting your physician and get things started by arranging a visit from the Hospice nurse and social worker.

Your physician or other health care provider can also make a referral to hospice for you, but the decision to enroll in Hospice is always your decision.

For more information about hospice care or about Hospice of the Twin Cities or Hospice of the Valley call our office at (763) 531-2424 or 1-800-364-2478.

Senior Housing Guide is a Division of Housing Sense