Frequently Asked Questions
In partnership with Right at Home, we've answered some of the most common questions we receive about hospice care and Centennial Hospice.
Centennial Hospice serves the following counties:
When is it time for hospice? (00:58)
From the patient perspective, we believe in two primary factors that indicate the need for hospice care: 1) when long-term care no longer seems effective and symptoms begin to escalate to include frequent emergency room and doctor visits, and 2) when the patient feels like they're ready (physiologically and otherwise). We encourage patients and their loved ones to advocate for themselves when hospice becomes a consideration, and to begin open and honest conversations with a physician about what the next two to three years of care look like.
How is hospice paid for? (07:15)
There are many ways that hospice costs can be partially or completely covered, including Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance providers (including BlueCross and BlueShield, Aetna, and United HealthCare), and specialized organizations (such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or Indian Health Service). A large portion of eligible hospice care recipients are Medicare beneficiaries, however it is an underused benefit, with only around 50% of beneficiaries opting to use it.
What does patient on-boarding look like in hospice care? (10:05)
First visits with our hospice care team are informational; we want to understand our patient, their health challenges, and to create an understanding of what we do in hospice and what's provided in our care.
During this time, we will make sure that our patients and their loved ones are comfortable with our philosophy; for patients this means that in a crisis moment, they will have to break from a traditional model of visits to the doctor and/or emergency room. Patients should understand that they're not going to go to the doctor anymore – our team will provide aid instead.
How do I / does a patient get on hospice care? (12:55)
New patients must meet specific criteria and undergo evaluation; however, referrals from physicians or family or a personal inquiry are all appropriate.
What are the benefits of hospice? (14:32)
Hospice should be looked at as additional support; our team includes professionals in clinical care, spiritual support, and social services, as well as nurse aides for daily care and needs. Hospice care alleviates the need to go in and out of the ER or hospital, because the hospice team will provide care in emergent situations or situations of acute need. Our care structure is designed to keep patients at the baseline of health they came on service with through the management of symptoms, with the provision of all necessary medication and supplies, as well as the provision of emotional and spiritual care. Our team additionally provides support for the family and loved ones of our patients during and following patient care.
Why is the word "hospice" scary? (18:46)
Years ago, hospice gained the reputation of signaling the immediate end of life ("if you're recommending hospice care, I only have a few days to live"). That's not the philosophy today, and in fact, Medicare intends hospice to be a 6-month benefit. We believe that introducing hospice care earlier to a patient is integral to managing symptoms as they progress, so that they have less of an extreme or traumatic impact on patients.
This stigma of suddenness and the uncertainty of life creates a natural anxiety or tension around conversations about hospice. However, like birth, death is one of the few times in life in which we are completely dependent on care from others, which is why we encourage everyone to advocate for their care and develop a complete plan surrounding the end of life.
How do I have conversations about hospice? (23:20)
For both patients and their loved ones, we encourage approaching hospice with an open and honest mentality. Offering support to a loved one at their next doctor visit, seeking education about hospice care, and having open conversations with each other and with physicians early on can help to create a system of comfort and support before things get more serious. The Centennial Hospice team can additionally help by providing information and guidance to patients and their families, as well as acting as a patient advocate when having conversations about hospice with physicians or doctors.
What support is provided during the bereavement process? (34:14)
Centennial Hospice's bereavement program follows up with families for up to 13 months after the passing of their loved one. Our emphasis on family care, in conjunction with patient care, through our Chaplain and social services staff set us apart from other healthcare agencies. Follow up care with a patient's loved ones is significant, and we believe is very much a part of the intended benefit of hospice care.
What does Join Commission Accreditation mean? (36:38)
Joint Commission Accreditation speaks to our higher standards and quality of care and requires us to meet standards above and beyond those laid forth by Medicare. In fact, many new Medicare regulations were Joint Commission standards for three to five years before being introduced to Medicare. Being Joint Commission Accredited means that we're at the pinnacle of understanding care changes, changes within the healthcare space, and care standards.
When should I start the conversation with a hospice care provider? (38:10)
Whenever you feel ready to start the process, you can contact us. We can provide guidance in the months prior to a patient coming on for care, with no pressure or obligation. We're here to help guide patients and their families through one of their most uncertain transitions, and providing comfort, reassurance, and support is at the forefront of all of our interactions.