Hospice FAQs

Deciding whether or not it's time to initiate hospice can be difficult. To help inform you before making that decision, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. If you don't see the answer to your question below, please contact us.

  • Does Hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

    No. Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. Just as physicians and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of birth, Hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

  • How does Hospice manage pain?

    Hospice nurses and physicians are highly skilled in pain and symptom management. They are up-to-date on the latest medications and devices to provide pain relief. Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so we address these as well. Counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.

  • What is Hospice's success rate in battling pain?

    Very high. Using some combination of medication, counseling and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.

  • Is the home the only place that Hospice can be delivered?

    No. Although most Hospice services are delivered in a personal residence, some patients live in nursing homes or in Hospice centers.

  • How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

    There is no set number. One of the first things the Hospice team will do is prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of care a patient needs. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer questions and provide support and education to the caregivers. Care is kept as simple as possible.

  • Must someone be with the patient at all times?

    In the early weeks of care, it is usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient at all times. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of the patient is the fear of dying alone, and falls risk increases, hospice generally recommends someone be there continuously. Hospice is available around the clock to consult with the family and to make night visits when appropriate. Care is kept as simple as possible.

  • Is there any special equipment or are there changes I have to make in my home before Hospice begins?

    Hospice will assess your needs, recommend any necessary equipment and make arrangements to obtain it. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses.

  • Can a Hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to medical treatment?

    Certainly. If improvement in the condition occurs and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from Hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about his or her daily life. If a discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.

  • Is Hospice care covered by insurance?

    Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid and by most private health insurance policies. To verify coverage, Hospice may assist you in contacting your insurance provider.

  • If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will Hospice still provide care?

    The first thing Hospice will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Hospice is able to provide care to those who do not have the ability to pay due to the generous donations from individuals, organizations, corporations, foundations and businesses. Each contribution is deeply appreciated.

  • How do I refer a loved one for Hospice?

    If you know someone who could benefit from Hospice services, please contact your physician for a referral. If you would like to learn more about Hospice services, please contact Doylestown Health Hospice at 215.345.2202.

  • What does the Hospice admission process involve?

    One of the first things Hospice will do is contact the patient's primary physician to make sure he or she agrees that Hospice care is appropriate for the patient at this time. The patient will also be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. The "Hospice election form" says the patient understands that the care is palliative (that is, aimed at pain relief and symptom management) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing Medicare Hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage for a terminal illness.

  • What is advance care planning?

    Advance care planning is the process of thinking about what your choices would be for future healthcare should you be unable to speak for yourself. It involves reflecting on your personal beliefs, goals and values, understanding your options, discussing your choices, documenting your decisions and sharing them with your loved ones, healthcare providers and your hospital so they can be followed when the time comes.

  • Why is advance care planning important?

    Advance care planning is important because it allows you to document your healthcare choices at a time in the future when others may be making decisions for you. You have the right to accept or refuse healthcare. Thinking now about what you want later gives you the time — without the pressure — to reflect on what is truly important to you before a crisis.

  • What is an advance directive?

    An advance directive is a legal document, completed and signed by you, stating your healthcare treatment and care choices, your living will and usually naming your healthcare power of attorney (HPOA)--the person or people you choose to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you're unable to speak for yourself. This becomes an important guide for your healthcare proxy and medical team, who are obligated to follow it when you are near the end of your life and unable to speak for yourself.

    You can change any part of your advance directive at any time while you are still able to communicate.

  • How can I participate in advance care planning (ACP) and make sure my documents reflect my choices?

    • Download and review an advance directive
    • Open a discussion of treatment and care options with your physician
    • If you have already completed an advance directive, review it now. Make sure it still reflects your wishes. You should review it every year or so and update it whenever your health or other circumstances change.
    • Discuss your choices with your family, healthcare agents and healthcare providers and provide them and your hospital with copies of your advance directive.
  • Does Hospice provide any help to the family after the patient has died?

    Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for one year following the death of a loved one. The Hospice program also offers bereavement support groups.