Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hospice?
Hospice offers palliative, supportive care for terminally ill patients who seek comfort from the symptoms of their illness rather than a cure. Hospice offers a highly trained and dedicated team of individuals to support the patient and their family with their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice is not about giving up, in fact, you will find that we are very aggressive in addressing and managing the symptoms of the illness, so that the patient may have the best quality of life possible.
Should I wait for our physician to bring up the subject of hospice, or can I raise it first?
The decision to choose hospice should be made by patient and family with the input of a physician. Open and honest discussion about treatment options should be held throughout the course of the illness. If a patient or family feels that a physician is reluctant to discuss hospice care, it is always appropriate for one or the other to approach the subject.
When is Hospice appropriate?
Hospice care becomes an alternative when a patient has reached the last phases of a terminal illness, and has been given a prognosis (or life expectancy) of six months or less. The subject of hospice care can be addressed at any time during the illness, as physician and patient discuss treatment options. When a patient chooses Hospice, the decision to give up curative measures is made in favor of comfort care. (Care that focuses on pain management and symptom control, psychosocial support for both patient and family and ancillary services that lessen the burden of illness and care giving).
What can we expect from the hospice staff?
The interdisciplinary team (IDT) of Guiding Light Hospice is made up of health care professionals and volunteers, each highly skilled and specially trained to meet the needs of the terminally ill patient and their families. The team is headed by the hospice physician who, together with the patient and family, determines the plan of care. The nurse will administer the plan and becomes the primary contact with the family. Social workers help with emotional and practical issues, resolve conflicts, address fears, provide support, and prompt discussion on arrangements that need to be made. Chaplains are available to help with spiritual guidance and hospice aides provide personal care for patients. Finally, volunteers furnish a variety of services that help ease the burden of the caregiver and contribute to the well being of the patient.
Who can refer a patient to a hospice program?
A referral begins with a phone call to Guiding Light Hospice. A caring staff member will ask important questions about the illness, previous treatment, the attending physician's endorsement of hospice care, as well as questions about the home and family situation that could affect care giving. Anyone may refer a patient to a hospice program. Patients may refer themselves or they may be referred by a friend, caregiver, relative, social worker, nurse, hospital, nursing home or physician. Our staff is available to visit with the patient and family prior to admission for a no cost, no obligation explanation of the services provided.
To make a referral, call (210) 585-2335 and ask for the admissions coordinator. The following patient information will be requested:
- Patient's name
- Patient's phone number
- Patient's physician's name
- The name and phone number of the person making a referral
After a patient has been referred, the Admissions Staff will contact the patient's private physician to obtain consent to talk to the patient about the programs and services of Guiding Light Hospice. Information necessary to complete the referral will also be obtained and an appointment will be made to review the services with the patient and caregiver as well as establish a care plan should the patient or their representative elect hospice services.
Who pays for hospice?
Guiding Light Hospice is a Medicare and Medicaid certified hospice and as a result, receives funding for hospice services. If you need assistance with understanding your Medicare benefits, contact us. Most private insurance plans also contribute to the costs of providing hospice care.
When is a patient ready for hospice care?
Hospice is appropriate when treatments are no longer effective and the patient and family agree to the service. Understandably, many patients and family members are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping treatment. Hospice staff members are sensitive to these concerns and are available to respond to any fears or concerns the patient and their family may have, as well as provide information regarding disease progression and what to expect. Prior to admission, a plan of care is developed based upon the patient's wishes and goals. The main objective of Guiding Light Hospice is to provide relief so that the patient and family can spend their remaining days with comfort and dignity.
Can we keep our own doctor?
Guiding Light Hospice encourages the continuation of care by the patient's primary care physician. If this is not possible or preferred, specially trained hospice physicians can see the patient and guide the care plan.
What if the patient gets better or changes their mind?
If the patient's condition improves or stabilizes, they may be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive treatment or resume daily life. If the patient should later need hospice care, Medicare and most insurance coverage allow the patient to resume hospice services.
Can pain be controlled outside the hospital setting?
Yes. Guiding Light Hospice nurses and doctors are experts in controlling pain. Emphasis is on promoting quality of life by providing comfort and relief from pain and symptoms. In fact, this process reduces unnecessary trips to the hospital
What if we have a problem on a weekend or holiday?
Help from the Guiding Light Hospice team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nurses, social workers and chaplains are available to address any concerns or symptoms requiring our support.