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Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice Care

Our Home Health Care Agencies

Does Hospice mean death is imminent?

Hospice care is intended for individuals who have a prognosis of six months or less. The time to start thinking about hospice is before you think you need it. We are happy to meet with you and your family – as well as contacting your primary health care practitioner- to discuss what care we can provide when the time comes. The fullest benefit occurs when symptoms are managed and individuals have time to receive the services hospice offers.

I thought Hospice was a place?

Hospice care is a philosophy of care provided to you and your family wherever you call home. Hospice works with you and your family to help you stay at home- in your house, assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

Do I have to stop seeing my health care practitioner if I’m on hospice care?

Individuals can choose their attending health care practitioner when they elect their hospice benefit and can continue to see this practitioner while receiving hospice care. When it becomes taxing on an individual on hospice care to get to appointments, the hospice team becomes the eyes and ears for the health care practitioner and information is communicated to them. The individual’s attending health care practitioner remains involved in the plan of care and signs hospice orders.

Do I need to wait for my health care practitioner to suggest hospice?

Anyone may call at any time to learn about Hospice’s services at no obligation. A health care practitioner's order is ultimately required for admission to the hospice program. It is better to learn about options before a crisis occurs.

Will I be on morphine immediately?

Hospice uses a variety of medications to help with pain and/or shortness of breath. Although morphine is used frequently for management of pain and/or shortness of breath, each individual is unique and may require a different medication to provide optimal symptom management. Our Hospice team will work with each individual, their family, and the attending health care practitioner to create a medication regimen that works best for the management of these symptoms.

Can I change my mind once I’ve started hospice care?

If the patient/family decide to pursue treatment or decide they no longer want hospice, they may sign a Revocation and traditional Medicare benefits will resume immediately. Some patients improve with hospice and are discharged if they no longer meet criteria.

Is hospice care 24/7?

Once hospice care is started the hospice team will set up a visit schedule designed to meet the individual’s needs. Typically the nurses visit 1-2 times a week and can increase this frequency as the care needs change. The hospice team teaches and supports the family/caregiver in how to care for their loved one at home and is available for unanticipated emergency care needs and symptom management 24/7. If the need cannot be managed over the phone, a visit will be arranged.

Can I still go to the hospital?

There are some indications for a return to the hospital. The hospice team would need to be involved in the plan and provide approval.

Is Hospice only for cancer patients?

Hospice care is not limited to cancer patients, but also meant for those living with cardiac or lung diseases, dementia or other end stage chronic disease.

Who is eligible for Hospice under the Hospice Medicare Benefit?

Those with any end stage chronic disease, including cancer, cardiac, pulmonary, dementia, renal or liver conditions, those with Active Medicare Part A, those for whom a physician and Hospice Medical Director certifies a 6-month prognosis or less, patients who elect comfort care instead of curative care are all eligible.

How long can a patient receive hospice care?

Hospice care is given in benefit periods. It begins with two 90-day benefit periods followed by an unlimited number of 60-day benefit periods. At the start of each period, the Hospice Medical Director will recertify the patient as long as criteria continues to support the terminal condition. Hospice services do not stop after six months – they will continue as long as the patient is recertified.

Contact Us

Yale New Haven Health - Health at Home, Hospice

Main line: 203-458-4200
Referrals: 203-453-7685
Hospice Hotline: 203-458-4206
Helpline: 1-866-474-5230
Donate: 203-458-4206