FAQs

Q?Who is eligible to receive hospice care?
A.

Any patient diagnosed with a life-threatening illness not currently receiving aggressive treatment is eligible to receive hospice care. Prolonged disease processes may require further evaluation prior to acceptance to the program.

Q?Who should make the decision about electing hospice and when?
A.

When aggressive efforts to treat a disease create more distress, pain and harm than good, it may be time to consider hospice care. Although hospice care requires a physician’s order, you or your loved one may suggest it to your physician at any time as part of your care options.

Q?Who can refer a patient to the hospice program?
A.

Physicians normally refer the patient to hospice when the prognosis or disease outcome appears poor. However, families and caregivers often self-refer to Serenity Hospice when they observe the need for increased medical care at home. Our staff will be happy to briefly visit and evaluate a patient then contact the patient’s physician to determine if hospice care is an appropriate option for the patient and their family.
Families and loving caregivers are the most ideal advocates for their loved ones. Please do not hesitate to approach the option of hospice care with your physician so that he/she may discuss the program benefits and write the necessary order.

Q?What is the admission process for Serenity Hospice?
A.

Upon receipt of a written or verbal referral, an experienced community educator from our team immediately visits the patient and their family in the home or hospital prior to discharge. This is an informational “no strings attached” visit. We consult with the patient’s physician to determine hospice appropriateness, we offer an evaluation of the patient’s medical condition, thoroughly explain our services and completely answer any questions the patient or family may have. The consents are then signed with the patient or his family. Nursing care will follow along with delivery of durable medical equipment and medications, usually within 3 hours of completion of consent.

Q?Who pays for Hospice Care?
A.

Medicare, HMO Medicare, VA and most private insurance plans provide 100% coverage of all hospice related care, medications and supplies.
Hospice Benefit Periods include:
– Initial 90 Days
– Subsequent 60 Day Extensions based on the patient’s condition

Q?Can the hospice patient continue care under their own physician?
A.

Yes. Although the Serenity medical director is available for consultation with the patient’s physician, Medicare allows patients to continue their terminal diagnosis code under their own physician’s care as the attending physician.

Q?How long does it take to receive hospice care?
A.

Hospice care almost always starts the same day of the initial phone call from a physician, healthcare professional, or family.

Q?How often will a Serenity team member visit the patient?
A.

Serenity is committed to providing the highest level of care to our patients and their families. With that goal in mind, our nurses develop a visit schedule upon admit which suits the individual needs of your loved one. Usually nurses visit at least twice a week for symptom management and the certified nursing assistant will visit 3 times a week for personal and hygiene care. As the patient’s needs change, our nursing visits may increase or decrease. 
Because changes in a patient’s condition are expected, symptom assessment and nursing visits are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Q?Will the same nurse and certified nursing assistant visit regularly?
A.

Yes. Serenity assigns a core team to each individual patient led by the nurse care manager. These team members are your loved one’s regularly scheduled medical care providers. On-call nurses are consistent and experienced as each takes their turn.

Q?Where does hospice care take place?
A.
    Routine Home Care: in a patient’s home, their caregiver’s home, a nursing home or an assisted living facility
    Inpatient Hospice: a free-standing facility utilized for short term management of acute symptoms
    Continuous Care: short term acute care in the patient’s home setting
    Respite Care: short term patient placement in a facility primarily utilized to provide rest for families and relieve caregiver stress
Q?What is Continuous Care under the hospice benefit?
A.

Continuous Care is acute care in the home. Hospice patients may experience difficult to manage symptoms which require continuous monitoring. Rather than remove the patient from his/her home, Serenity offers short-term acute care by a skilled medical professional in 8 hour increments for up to 72 hours until the symptoms are under control.

Q?What are the differences between home health care and hospice care?
A.

There are several differences between the two types of care:


First, home healthcare is a wonderful resource for individuals who require restorative care after an illness. The focus of home health is to assist patients in resuming their normal activities of daily living and to restore a patient who expects to recover to a healthy functional level for the future. While hospice encourages patients to continue their daily activities, we recognize the challenges and limitations an advancing disease process can present in living a normal life. Our goal is to maximize quality of life while minimizing the impact of these limitations with proactive symptom management.


Second, home health is an aggressive form of care which primarily includes nursing and various physical therapies focused entirely on the patient. Hospice is a more inclusive family care approach by a specialized team which includes the patient living with the disease, the practical management of daily physical therapy needs, and caregivers helping families cope with the future.

Third, hospice is designed to be more flexible and readily available for families with immediate medical and spiritual needs. In addition to regularly scheduled visits, our nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for questions and visits to manage unexpected changes in a patient’s condition.

Q?Are patients confined to the home or bedbound under hospice care?
A.

Absolutely not. Our patients are encouraged to live a full and active life as far as their disease process allows.

Q?How does hospice manage pain?
A.

Our hospice and palliative care nurses will provide your loved one with the most effective treatments and medications for symptom management and pain control. These medications are delivered to the home within hours of admit to hospice care. Medications may include digestive aids, fluid control medications, and possibly narcotics available for crisis management.

Q?What is Serenity Hospice’s success rate in managing pain and controlling symptoms?
A.

Very high. Serenity offers the services of an established local compound pharmacy with an excellent reputation. Our nurses work in conjunction with the pharmacy staff to meet the varied symptom management needs of individual patients. Medications are available in a variety of forms for the comfort of the patient: oral, rectal, sublingual (under the tongue) and gel.

Q?Must caregivers be family members?
A.

Serenity offers support to the patient and whomever the patient wants involved in their care, regardless of their relationship.

Q?Must a caregiver always remain with the hospice patient?
A.

The need for constant caregiving may be unnecessary in the early stages of care when the patient is still ambulatory and functional. However, as the disease progresses and the patient becomes more dependant on their loved ones, more vigilant caregiving will become necessary in order to maintain patient hygiene and to monitor medication and comfort levels. Often, families bond as members share shifts of time caring for their loved one. Hospice volunteers are also available for occasional caregiver respite.

Q?Does choosing hospice mean the patient is giving up hope that there is nothing more the doctor’s can do to prolong life?
A.

Physicians and patients turn to hospice when the active curative treatment for a disease is no longer effective in fighting it. Serenity Hospice focuses on quality of life and comfort care, not curative care. Our emphasis is on symptom management and pain control. Far from giving up hope, hospice enables patients and their families to achieve their goals and fulfill their wishes in the time they have remaining.

Q?Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home for hospice?

A.

Our hospice team will assess the needs of the patient and discuss these needs with caregivers to arrange for any necessary equipment delivery to the home.

Q?If I choose hospice services in the nursing home will the nursing home staff feel they were not doing a good job?
A.


Serenity Hospice often works in close partnership with the staff members of many nursing homes and enjoys a well respected reputation within the medical community. While the nursing home staff provides ongoing expertise in geriatric and chronic illness care, hospice provides specialized pain and symptom management for the resident. Our nursing home partners appreciate the added experience and skill provided during visits by the nurse, certified nursing assistant, social worker and chaplains. In addition, Serenity Hospice provides emotional and bereavement support to the nursing home staff who have developed long-term relationships with their residents.

Q?What is Joint Commission certification and how is this an indicator of excellent care?
A.

Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting very high healthcare performance standards. In order to qualify for this certification, Serenity Hospice has undergone a rigorous process including regular reviews of our consistent levels of excellent patient care by Joint Commission staff. Please feel free to learn more at www.jointcommission.org.

Q?Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular treatment?
A.

Yes. If your loved one’s condition improves or the disease moves into remission, he may be discharged from hospice care and return to curative therapy. Medicare and most private insurance companies allow additional coverage should the patient need to return to hospice care again later.

Q?Where can I get more hospice information?
A.

Please access these links for further information on the benefits of hospice: National Association of Hospice & Palliative Care (www.nhpco.org) or Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (www.lmhpco.org).

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