Questions about Hospice Care

What is Hospice?
Who uses hospice care?
When is the right time to seek hospice services?
What are the Criteria for Admission?

How are Hospice services initiated?

What services does hospice offer?

What is the service area for Hospice of North Idaho?

Can a hospice patient continue with his or her own physician?

Does hospice provide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week nursing care?

Who pays for hospice care?
What is the hospice Medicare Benefit?

What is Hospice?
Hospice is a model of health care designed to care for the whole person so they may live life fully, maintain dignity and retain personal control. This holistic concept of care provides physical, emotional & spiritual care to patients and their families living with a life-limiting illness. Care is provided in the patient's own home, assisted living home, certified family home, group home, skilled nursing facility or inpatient facility (hospital).

  • The care is focused on palliation of symptoms and maximizing quality of life.
  • The aim is comfort care verses curative treatment.



Who uses hospice care?

Hospice serves persons of any age with any life-limiting illness. Common illnesses include but are not limited to cancer, cardiac disease, renal disease, neurological illnesses, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), AIDS, cirrhosis, leukemia, pulmonary disease and others.


When is the right time to seek hospice services?

At any time during a life-limiting illness it is appropriate to discuss all of a patient's care options, including Hospice. The earlier Hospice becomes involved the better. The patient and family will enjoy the full benefit of Hospice care if a relationship of trust between patient and Hospice can develop over several months. It is time for hospice care:

  • When curative treatment is no longer an option.
  • When the emphasis changes to comfort, symptom control and enhancing the quality of life.
  • When a physician thinks Hospice can help.


What are the Criteria for Admission:

Any person in Kootenai, Benewah and Shoshone counties with a life-limiting illness or physical decline and a prognosis or six months or less may choose hospice care. Referrals may come from the attending physician, immediate family members or the patient. A primary caregiver residing in the home or a DNR is not required. 



How are Hospice services initiated?

A physician (or other health care professional), a patient or designated health care surrogate may request Hospice services. Ultimately the patient and primary physician must agree that the referral is appropriate and approve the admission to Hospice. Hospice care is established when the patient, primary caregiver or health care surrogate visit with the Hospice admission team and agree to the admission terms in written form. At this time, a plan of care is established and subsequent visits by the nurse and social worker are discussed. 




What services does hospice offer?

The specific services offered by Hospice include registered nurses, medical social workers, home health aides, grief counselors, dietitians, therapists (physical, occupational, speech & respiratory), volunteers, and chaplains. An on-call RN is available for emergent needs on a 24-hour basis. Medical supplies/equipment, medications, inpatient care and respite care are provided in accordance with Medicare or the patient's insurance provider. 





What is the service area for Hospice of North Idaho?

Hospice covers three of the northern Idaho panhandle counties, Kootenai, Shoshone, and Benewah. This is approximately a 50-mile radius. 




Can a hospice patient continue with his or her own physician?

Yes. The Hospice medical director will review the Hospice plan of care and is available to consult with the primary physician if needed. Hospice nurses will work with the patient's doctor on all aspects of care. 



Does hospice provide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week nursing care?

No. Hospice nurses visit weekly or more frequently as the patient's condition dictates. A Hospice nurse is also accessible 24 hours a day by phone to assist with questions or emergencies and will make a home visit if needed. During a crisis, a nurse may stay with the patient until the crisis is resolved. 





Who pays for hospice care?

Most health insurances, including Medicare or Medicaid, provide full coverage for Hospice care. Hospice services are provided regardless of the ability to pay.


What is the hospice Medicare Benefit?

The Hospice Medicare Benefit is an additional benefit provided by Medicare under Medicare part A. 

Hospice is paid a daily rate by Medicare to provide the following services:

  • Primary RN to provide pain and symptom management
  • On-call RN for emergent needs after normal working hours, weekends, & holidays
  • Medical Social Worker to provide emotional support, address financial concerns, act as an advocate, initiate community resources and meet counseling needs
  • Home Health Aide for personal care or light housekeeping
  • Dietitian for dietary counseling.
  • Therapists (Physical, Occupational, Speech & Respiratory)
  • Additional Hospice Medicare benefits are provided when related to the Hospice illness.