About Hospice Services
Hospice is not a place. It is a program of supportive care. Most care is provided in the home, including assisted living centers, personal care homes, and nursing homes. At times, hospitalization is needed to achieve symptom management. If hospitalized, a patient will continue to be followed by the hospice team and care in the home will resume when the acute problem is resolved.
Hospice care should be considered when a cure is no longer possible and the focus of care is directed toward comfort. Decisions to forego or discontinue aggressive therapies are usually made at this time.
ONE OF THE MOST COMMON SENTIMENTS FROM FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN HELPED BY HOSPICE IS, “WE WISH WE HAD KNOWN ABOUT HOSPICE SOONER.”
- Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare, private insurances and in most states, including Maryland, Medicaid.
- In addition to quality medical care from nurses and doctors, highly trained social workers, clergy, volunteers, and others comprise a team of professionals offering comprehensive support and respite.
- Care is available for those with advanced Alzheimer’s, end-stage heart and lung disease, and other non-cancer diagnoses.
- Infants, children, and people of any age facing a life-limiting illness are eligible.
- Hospice benefit pays for medications and medical equipment to keep a patient safe and comfortable.
- Care is available as long as a doctor feels the patient is eligible and says this in writing.
- Professionals can help people document their wishes for care at end of life offering assistance with important documents such as advanced directives.
- Care can take place in assisted living and nursing homes, wherever a patient calls home.
- Care can include alternative therapies such as music, art, aromatherapy, and massage to bring additional comfort to patients and families.
- Hospice offers grief support to those families served by Hospice as well as anyone in the community that is grieving.
Hospice care is provided through a team approach. Directed by the patient and their physician, the team includes nurses, home health aides, social work, pastoral care, and other needed therapies. Together they create an individualized plan of care for the patient. Volunteer services and bereavement care are included. The plan of care will be directed toward relief of physical symptoms and provision of psychosocial/spiritual support.
Patients & families may have questions or unforeseen problems at a time other than traditional workday hours. A registered nurse is available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If needed, the on-call nurse will make home visits at that time.
These visits provide a link to the physician and often reduce the need for visits to the Emergency Department.
Anyone can request information and an assessment visit by Hospice. A physician order is needed to admit to services. The physician will need to verify that the patient is likely to be in the last six months of life and identify the Hospice illness.
The six-month time frame is a guideline. Patients may do better than expected and sometimes Hospice is no longer needed. If so, Hospice care is discontinued. If need continues past six months, the service continues.
Call 240-964-9000 for an Assessment.
Paying for Hospice Care
Care is provided regardless of ability to pay. Hospice care is covered in full by most insurances.
Medicare and Medicaid provide a special Hospice benefit. This benefit provides 100% coverage for visits by staff, medications related to the Hospice illness, durable medical equipment in the home, and supplies for skin care, incontinence management, dressings, etc.
UPMC Western Maryland’s Hospice Services Team is looking for volunteers. Opportunities include patient and family support, Hospice nursing home visitation, bereavement, organizational support and “Hospice Helpers.”
Patient and Family Support
Patient and family support volunteers visit patients in their homes to provide companionship to patients and give family members a break from the burdens of 24 hours a day care giving. They may also run errands or assist with other household tasks.
Hospice Nursing Home Visitation
Some hospice patients reside in local nursing homes or assisted living facilities and volunteers are asked to visit to provide companionship to the patient and support to their families.
Bereavement volunteers assist hospice by maintaining contact with hospice families for a period of time after the death of their loved one. Contacts are made by mail and phone.
Organizational support volunteers assist with office tasks and special projects.
Hospice Helpers are volunteers who can be called upon to occasionally help with tasks such as small home repairs, legal assistance, cleaning, shopping, gardening, lawn care, haircuts by beauticians or barbers, cooking, baking, knitting, crocheting, sewing, crafts, playing a musical instrument or singing, reading to patients, videotaping or photography, and assisting with special patient celebration events.
Teens ages 14 and up, college students, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, or home school organizations may volunteer for Hospice as community service.
Volunteers are required to attend an orientation session titled “Hospice 101.” It is a general overview of Hospice in the community and the roles of Hospice team members. Additional training depends on the volunteer role selected.
The training is free but volunteers must provide their own transportation.
Hospice Volunteer Coordinator
This information is provided by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and UPMC Western Maryland Hospice Services.