What is Hospice Care ?
 
 
Who Pays for Hospice ?
 
Admission Criteria
 
Patient Information
 
Hospice Philosophy of Caring for the Terminally Ill
   
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What is Hospice Care ?
The term “hospice” (from the same linguistic root as “hospital” and hospitality”) stems back to medieval times when it was used to describe a place of shelter and rest for weary or sick travelers on long journeys. The term was first applied to specialized care for dying patients in 1967, when Dr. Cicely Saunders established St. Christopher’s Hospice in a residential suburb of London. Today, the term “hospice” refers to a steadily growing concept of humane and compassionate care which can be implemented in a variety of settings – in patients’ homes, nursing homes, hospitals, and other freestanding inpatient facilities.

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Hospice is a Medicare Benefit
Congress established the Medicare Hospice Benefit in 1983 to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries could access high-quality end-of-life care. It is a benefit under Part A of Medicare. Today, more than 65 percent of hospice patients are Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare Hospice Benefit promises dying Americans a death that is free of pain,with emotional and spiritual support.

The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the following:
- Nursing services on an intermittent basis
- Physician services
- Medical appliances and supplies
- Medications for pain and symptom management related to the terminal illness
- Short term inpatient and respite care
- Physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy
- Home health aide and homemaker services
- Medical social services
- Spiritual, dietary and other counseling
- Continuous care during periods of crisis
- Volunteer participation
- Bereavement services

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Admission Criteria
In order to be eligible to elect hospice care under Medicare, an individual must be entitled to benefits under Part A of Medicare and certified as being terminally ill by a physician. An individual is considered to be terminally ill if the individual has a medical prognosis, according to their physician’s best clinical judgment, that limits his or her life expectancy to 6 months or less if the terminal illness runs its normal course.

 

 

Patient Information
Hospices now care for over half of all Americans who die from cancer and a growing number of patients with other chronic, life-threatening illnesses. According to actual patient counts supplied by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) member hospices, and conservative estimates for other hospice programs, NHPCO estimates that hospices admitted 700,000 patients in 1999. This represents an increase of 160,000 or 23 percent over 1998 admissions. NHPCO further estimates that over 25 percent of all Americans who died in 1999 were in hospice care.

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Hospice Philosophy of Caring for the Terminally Ill
The hospice philosophy holds that end-of-life care should emphasize quality of life. Hospice is about the living that goes on during the time between the diagnosis of a life threatening illness and death.