In this blog, I’d like to break down the most common myths of hospice.
- Hospice hastens death.
The fact of the matter is that most patients live on average 29 days longer on hospice service and have a better quality of life (article attached to provide research study information).
As I stated in my last blog, hospice is a gift. I can’t think of a better way to give someone with a terminal diagnosis, quality of life in their last days, and also allowing you (family member, friend, etc.) quality time with your loved one.
- Hospice means 3 days to live.
I have encountered many families over my hospice career (although this has gotten better over the years through education and experiences with hospice) that think hospice means the patient has three days to live. There have been other combinations of days, but three days seems to be the most common phrase used. A patient actually becomes eligible for hospice when two physicians, usually the patient’s primary care physician and the hospice medical director, agree the patient has a six month prognosis. This is important to remember. Early referrals help families and patients familiarize themselves with the hospice team. It also allows the team time to work with the family with the anticipatory of grief, end of life arrangements, like funeral homes, power of attorney delegation, and other important arrangements.
- Hospice is a place.
Hospice is a service provided to patients where ever the patient calls home. Some hospices do have inpatient units that are utilized either when a patient doesn’t have a home or the patient is there for pain symptom management. Patients who have been serviced by hospice have lived in such locations as apartments, private homes, independent living, assisted living, skill nursing facilities, and group homes.
- I can’t afford hospice.
Families who may not understand the hospice benefit, may also have a hard wrapping their head around how it’s paid for. The majority of patients on service use their Medicare Part A benefit to pay for hospice services. There are also many patients who use Medicaid benefits to pay for services. Patients who are in skilled nursing facilities usually use a combination of Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Others who are aren’t medicaid eligible; use Medicare benefits to pay for hospice and private pay room and board to the extended care facility as they call the facility home.
- I can’t be on hospice without a DNR in place.
While some hospices may utilize this policy, there are other hospices (including my hospice, Tridia) that will admit patients as full codes, DNRCC-A (and for further details and questions, feel free to call myself or our office at 614-473-0044). It’s a very hard decision to make, and we work with families and patients providing education and resources while families are on hospice services.
Jason Hill is a Community Liaison at Tridia Hospice and guest blogger at AlerStallings. You can follow him on LinkedIn.