The move to hospice care can be a stressful task during an already stressful time. To help ease some of your worries and answer questions you may have about the process, we’ve broken down a few of the steps. Although everyone’s journey looks a little different, Faith Hospice Trillium Palliative Services Nurse Practitioner, Barb Opperwall, explains below what the typical transition to hospice looks like.
Step 1- The Determination of a Serious Change in Condition

To enter hospice care, a patient must have received a prognosis of six months or less to live. This prognosis could be brought about by a catastrophic event or a gradual decline due to a disease or illness. Once curative treatment is no longer working, hospice care is typically recommended. By law, the medical team cannot recommend a specific hospice but can provide choices available to them.

Step 2: The Determination of Hospice Provider

It’s an important decision to make, and many people consult with family or friends who have gone through the process. Once they get a feel for what their loved one’s experience was like, they can better understand if it is the right fit. After a hospice has been chosen, the patient or loved one can call the hospice agency directly or their provider can help make that call to the hospice of their choice.

Step 3: The First Visit

The first visit is entirely informational and free of charge. Faith Hospice will come to wherever a patient is and help them decide if and when hospice would be beneficial. This is a great opportunity to ask any and all questions to hospice professionals who have gone through this process with others a number of times. There is absolutely no obligation to elect hospice care, the patient has the final decision.

Step 4: The Details

To confirm someone qualifies for hospice care, we collect and review medical records and conduct an in-person assessment to determine eligibility. This is completed after the person has elected hospice for their care. We investigate the individual’s insurance coverage and inform them up-front of any out-of-pockets costs. Hospice care is usually covered by insurance and is 100% covered by Medicare. For those who do not qualify for insurance, benevolence can be an option.

Step 5: The Plan

Once a patient has signed on to hospice care, we work with them and their loved ones to create a care plan. We ask the patient what their wishes are and develop a plan from there. Together, we determine which services, equipment, and resources are required. Plans can range from weekly check-ins to more in-depth visits with nurses, companions, chaplains, aides, doctors, and social workers. There are, however, a few things that all plans have in common: A full assessment of a patient's medication plan is conducted. The plan of care becomes focused on the patient’s comfort and all treatments are evaluated accordingly. The attention shifts to effective treatment for maintaining comfort, emotional and spiritual support for the journey, and ensuring that the patient’s wants and wishes can be fulfilled as much as possible.

Hospice Care Doesn’t End There

After a patient has passed away, we continue care by providing bereavement services to their loved ones. Our team is there to offer the support, understanding, and guidance that is needed during this difficult time. To learn more about our bereavement services, click here.