Many have questions about hospice. Learn more with our FAQs.

When is the right time for hospice?

Hospice is a service provided to those who has 6 months or less to live so long as their disease progresses its normal course and has been deemed eligible by the Hospice Medical Director. Quality of life, the benefit versus the burden of aggressive treatment and the individual’s wishes also play a role in the decision to enter hospice care.

There are key indicators for when the choice of hospice is appropriate or close. Some of these may include:

  • Multiple and frequent falls
  • Excessive loss of weight
  • Multiple infections
  • Non healing wounds
  • Limited or no treatment options
  • Medications are no longer of assistance
  • Utilization of concentrated oxygen is no longer helping
  • Life limiting or chronic illness has run its course

Studies have shown that some people on hospice services actually live longer than projected. In these cases, the patient may remain on hospice with recertification by the hospice medical director.

Is hospice care a covered benefit?

Hospice care is a covered benefit under many private insurance carriers, Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare (a military service member and family benefit), as long as certain criteria are met. In most cases, benefits will cover all services, medications and equipment related to a person’s illness.

How are hospice services covered?

Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurances, and private pay provide access to the hospice benefit. Benefits include:

  • Medications for pain relief and symptom management
  • Medical, nursing and social services
  • Grief counseling
  • Some short-term inpatient stays for pain and symptom management that cannot be addressed at home; however, these stays must be in a Medicare-approved location, such as a skilled nursing facility, hospital or hospice location.
  • Inpatient respite care, which provides for a hospice patient’s needs in a Medicare-approved facility so your caregiver may take a break. Respite care allows five days of care for each stay.
  • Hospice may continue beyond six months with recertification from the hospice medical director or hospice physician.

When considering hospice care, a patient should be certain he or she has Medicare coverage. In addition, a patient should check with his or her other insurance providers to determine whether hospice services are covered.

Who does Heart & Soul Hospice serve?

Heart & Soul Hospice, as well as our parent organization, Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, provides quality services for people of many creeds, including Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Episcopal and non-Christian faiths.

How do I talk to my loved ones about my concerns?

We understand that conversations about death can create anxiety, but breaking the ice on this difficult topic is important. The primary care physician who cares for you — or your loved one — can be an excellent resource for opening the subject. And we can, too. We are trained to help families navigate death and dying with compassion and honesty.

What is the difference between home health and hospice?

Home health services help a person regain function after an illness, injury or surgery when homebound. Hospice is specialized care that assists with the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of a person and their family when facing a life-limiting illness. A person is usually not able to receive both. Please notify us if you are receiving care from a home health agency.

Will my family doctor remain involved in my care?

We will continue to be in close communication with your doctor and follow the orders for your care. Your doctor may ask our Medical Director to assist with your care. Medical Directors are uniquely trained in hospice and palliative care to manage pain and other symptoms specific to your diagnosis.

What level of care is provided during this season of life?

Hospice care supplements the care provided by your family or hired caregivers in the home or senior living community. We provide intermittent care that includes scheduled visits by your team. Our staff is available 365 days a year.

Will hospice affect my Medicare or Medicaid coverage?

You will continue to maintain your Medicare/Medicaid coverage for all health problems not related to your hospice illness.

While under hospice, can I go to the hospital?

Yes, although all hospitalizations should be coordinated through your hospice team prior to going to the hospital.

May I leave town or take a trip?

You are encouraged to travel, as much as your health allows. Notify your care team as soon as possible of your travel plans. Your care team will assist you in preparing for the trip. We may need to arrange for you to have care from another hospice in the area in which you will be staying. Your care team will help you determine the best way to handle your situation.

Do I have to stay at home to have hospice?

No.  You are encouraged to participate in as many activities as your health allows.

Can I have physical therapy?

Your doctor will determine if physical therapy would be helpful to you. Physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy may be covered services if your physician deems them appropriate to manage symptoms. We will arrange for you to receive any needed therapies.

May I continue to receive chemotherapy or radiation?

Generally, chemotherapy and radiation are for curative treatment, however, in some cases they may be approved for symptom management. Talk with your hospice nurse if you are considering one of these treatments.

Where does Heart & Soul Hospice provide hospice care?

Heart & Soul Hospice provides both in-home patient care and in-patient hospice care through contracts with hospitals and senior living communities where your loved one may reside. We also have contracts with several area hospitals and senior living communities to provide respite care for patients for up to five days at a time. For more information about respite care, contact one of our offices, 316-652-6212 for Newton or Wichita, Kan., or 573-756-7066 for Farmington, Mo.

What if I decide I no longer want hospice?

You may choose to discontinue hospice service at any time.