Common Questions:

FAQs: Here is a list of our most frequently asked questions.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice is the belief that each of us has a right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. This is achieved through a team approach by providing the patient with medical care and pain management and the patient and family with emotional and spiritual support as the needed. Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. This is called palliative care.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening illness. Palliative care provides relief from pain and other symptoms, affirms life and regards dying as a normal process, does not hasten or postpone death, integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of care, offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death, offers support to the family to help cope during this difficult time, will enhance the quality of life, and may also improve the course of the illness.

Palliative care differs from curative care in that it is not intended to cure the disease. As a result, routine IV’s, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery would only be appropriate if the physician and the hospice staff determine these procedures in some way enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Who can be admitted to hospice?

A patient may be admitted to hospice when their physician certifies that if the disease process runs its normal course, the patient has a life expectancy of six (6) months or less.

When should hospice be started?

Any time during a patient’s illness is an appropriate time to discuss all options available, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Making the decision to move from curing to comfort can be a difficult decision for the patient and family. Caring and sensitive hospice staff members are available to discuss all concerns with everyone. They will work with the patient, family and physician to help make the best decision for all involved.

Should I wait for our physician to suggest hospice?

Anyone can make the call to hospice for services, including the patient, family, clergy, friends or healthcare provider. The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy or friends. If the patient’s physician has not made a referral to hospice, the hospice staff will call the physician to get permission to admit the patient for them.

Why should patients choose hospice care?

Many patients who are diagnosed with a life-limiting illness want to live the remainder of their lives in the comfort, security and familiarity of home, surrounded by those who love them. Hospice’s goal is to provide peace and comfort to the patient and their loved ones through pain control, symptom management, psychological and spiritual aspects of care. Hospice helps to ensure quality of life for people faced with these life limiting illnesses. With hospice care, patients and loved ones regain a sense of control over their lives. Caregivers take comfort and pride in the fact they are doing everything possible for their loved one. Hospice allows the patient to concentrate on living fully instead of focusing all their waking moments being consumed by pain.

 

Is hospice care only for patients with cancer?

No. Hospice care is appropriate for anyone facing the advancing stages of any life-threatening illness; including but not limited to cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), end-stage heart, liver, kidney, lung disease, and severe birth defects.

Who provides hospice care?

Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals including doctors, nurses, therapists, certified home health aides, social workers, clergy and volunteers working together to provide a full range of services. This team, along with the patient’s physician, works with the patient and family to develop an individual plan of care to manage the patient’s symptoms and meet the goals of the patient and family.

What is specifically provided by hospice?

An interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, certified home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers comprise the staff available to assist the patient in their needs. Each will provide care according to their area of expertise. In addition, hospice will help provide medications, supplies, equipment, and hospital services that are related to the life-limiting illness. The hospice can assist the patient and/or family in locating community resources for additional care and items not covered by hospice.

Are all hospices the same?

No. Although all hospices specialize in the care of life-limiting illnesses, the quality of care and extent of services can differ widely among hospice care providers. Many hospices are part of large, for-profit health care systems, while others operate as non-profit organizations. Seasons Hospice is an independent, non-profit, community health care provider.

What geographic areas does Seasons Hospice cover?

Seasons Hospice serves patients throughout northeastern Oklahoma and areas of Missouri. Seasons Hospice can effectively give care to anyone within a 50 mile radius of their offices, located in Tulsa, OK and Springfield, MO. They are able to see patients in all or part of the following counties:
From Tulsa, OK
• Tulsa
• Rogers
• Mayes
• Creek
• Osage
• Wagoner
• Muskogee
• Pawnee
• Okmulgee
• Nowata
• Washington

Are there different levels of hospice care?

Yes. Hospice provides four levels of care to ensure that the needs of patients and families are being met. The physician and hospice nurse MUST AUTHORIZE changes in level of care.
ROUTINE HOME CARE: Routine home care is provided by hospice in the patient’s place of residence. The care is delivered by a specially trained and compassionate staff of medical, spiritual and social work professionals and volunteers. Assistance with pain management, skilled nursing care, symptom management and activities of daily living are provided. The interdisciplinary hospice team coordinates care with the patient and family.

Most patients, with the assistance of the hospice team, are able to remain in their place of residence, whether it is a private home or nursing home for the duration of their illness. If the patient lives in a long-term care facility or nursing home, the care delivered is in addition to the normal nursing care provided by the facility and is covered by Medicare under a separate benefit. The care is coordinated by the interdisciplinary hospice team, nursing facility staff, the patient and the family.

RESPITE CARE: Respite care is available to the primary caregivers and family in need of rest from caring for the patient. There are several local nursing facilities, as well as private respite homes available for respite care. The patient is able to stay in one of the facilities or homes for up to five (5) days per episode, according to Medicare guidelines. Medicare covers respite care costs as part of the Hospice benefit. Ask your hospice team for more information regarding places that provide respite care.

CONTINUOUS CARE: If the patient’s symptoms are out of control or death is imminent, continuous care may be initiated. Continuous care is provided by the hospice team for several hours a day, up to 24 hours a day, until the crisis is resolved. The hospice nurse will assist in determining when continuous care is needed.

Can someone who lives alone receive hospice care?

Yes, as long as the patient is safe. Hospice staff will work with the patient to establish a plan of action when it is determined it is no longer safe for the patient to live alone.

 

How much does hospice care cost and is it covered by insurance?
There will never be a cost to the patient or family for charges related to the patient’s hospice diagnosis. Seasons Hospice receives their payment from Medicare, Missouri Medicaid, private insurance, and generous donations from outside sources. Patients and/or their family should check with their health insurance provider to inquire about hospice coverage. The hospice providers can also help the patient inquire about their insurance coverage.

 

What does the hospice admission process involve?

The process begins with a phone call to hospice by the patient, family, friend, clergy, physician or other health care professional. The hospice admission coordinator will ask for general information, including permission to contact the patient’s personal physician to make sure the patient is eligible for hospice services. A time will be arranged for a hospice staff member to visit the patient and/or family to explain how hospice can help and what services may be needed. There will be some paperwork involved. Hospice will take care of the rest.

 

How often will the hospice team members visit?

Your hospice nurse and physician will work with you to determine what services are needed and how often the hospice team members will visit. Visits are made as often as you need them.

 

What happens if we need help between visits from our hospice team members?

A team of Physicians, Nurses, Social Workers, Counselors, Certified Nursing Assistants, Clergy, Therapists, and Volunteers care for hospice patients – and each provides assistance based on his/her area of expertise. In addition, hospices help provide medications, supplies, equipment, hospital services (when related to the terminal illness), and additional helpers in the home when needed.

 

Does hospice do anything to shorten or lengthen a patient’s life?

Hospice does nothing to either speed up or slow down the dying process. Just as physicians and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of childbirth, the hospice team provides presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process. Hospice seeks to relieve suffering, control symptoms and restore functional capacity while remaining sensitive to personal, cultural, and religious beliefs and practices.

 

What happens if a patient lives longer than 6 months?

If a patient continues to meet hospice medical criteria, then the patient will continue to receive hospice services. Predicting a person’s life expectancy is not an exact science, but guidelines are used by physicians to ensure patients receive hospice as long as they need it.

 

What happens if a patient’s condition improves?

If a patient’s condition improves to the point where hospice is no longer needed (life expectancy is greater than six (6) months), then the patient will be discharged from hospice. The hospice staff will assist the patient and family in obtaining the necessary resources in the home, such as medical equipment and supplies, before discharge occurs to ensure the patient’s needs are being met.

 

Must a hospice patient be in acceptance of his/her death?

Although patients receiving hospice care must have a life-limiting condition, patients may go through many stages of acceptance or non-acceptance. Patients are not pressured to discuss end-of-life issues. It is clearly the patient’s choice. Members of the hospice team are trained to discuss end of life issues with the patient and are willing to do so when the patient is comfortable enough to talk about it.

 

Do I have to give up hope?

Some may feel that choosing hospice care signifies no hope or giving up. With the loss of good health, hopes change. Hope for survival may transform into hope for other goals…hope to live one’s remaining days free from pain…hope to spend time with loved ones…hope for a good night’s rest…hope for peace for loved ones. These are the hopes that patients can realize, with the help of Seasons Hospice.