10 Myths about Hospice Services

1. Myth: Hospice is only for people with cancer.
Less than 50% of hospice patients have a cancer diagnosis. Heart disease, lung disease, dementia, CVA/strokes, neuromuscular disease, HIV/AIDS and debility are other examples of hospice diagnoses.

2. Myth: Hospice is a place.
Hospice is a philosophy of care and a service to those with life-limiting illnesses. Hospice services can be given in a personal residence, assisted living facility, certified family home, group home, skilled nursing facility or hospital.

3. Myth: Hospice only helps patients during the last week or two of life.
The Hospice Medicare Benefit is designed to provide care at the last six month of life. It is best not to wait for crisis to occur before allowing hospice services to be implemented.

4. Myth: Hospice care is expensive.
Hospice is fully covered by Medicare and requires little, if any, out of pocket expenses. Many insurance companies also have a hospice benefit. A 2001 report by Milliman Co. showed that for every $1.00 spent for hospice care, Medicare saves $1.52 in Part A & B costs.

5. Myth: Hospice services are only for the patient.
Fact: Hospice is family-centered care. Hospice includes medical care for the patient and counseling for the entire family. Bereavement services are available to the family for 13 months after the death of the loved one.

6. Myth: All hospice care is the same around the country.
Fact: Hospices can be for-profit, non-profit, hospital-based, home health-based or independent. Different hospices have different levels of expertise, philosophies of care and approaches to patient and family care. Hospice of North Idaho, a non-profit hospice, directs all of its resources to ensure that members of the community will live as fully as possible at the end of life, sparing the terminally ill and their families an all too common fate: dying in pain and without access to social support or spiritual counsel.

7. Myth: Hospice is only available Monday-Friday, 8-5pm.
Hospice is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is always a registered nurse on call after business hours for emergencies or special needs.

8. Myth: Patients die sooner with hospice care.
Fact: Hospice does not hasten or prevent death. Hospice staff specializes in managing pain and symptoms so the patient can enjoy their life with their loved ones. One study indicates that Hospice care is linked to longer patient survival. If a patient stabilizes under hospice care, the patient can be discharged.

9. Myth: Patients must sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) prior to admission to hospice.
Although most hospice patients choose to sign a DNR, Hospice of North Idaho does not require it for admission.

10. Myth: It is difficult to be referred to hospice.
Your primary physician must give the referral. Families are welcome to contact Hospice of North Idaho for more information.