What does it mean when it’s "time to call hospice"?

Calling hospice means deciding that the patient and family no longer want to pursue curative care. Generally, a physician determines that a patient’s life expectancy is six months or less; most medical treatments and interventions are no longer effective, will not cure the disease and/or will prolong suffering. Calling hospice takes a patient’s care away from disease specialists and surgeons and gives it to an interdisciplinary team trained in comfort care, pain relief, psychosocial support and quality of life at the end of life.

What is the difference between diagnosis and prognosis?

A diagnosis is when the cause of the illness is identified (e.g., the common cold, pneumonia, lung cancer, etc.). A prognosis is a prediction about how the illness will develop. In the case of people who are terminally ill, the prognosis is often the physician’s estimate of how long the illness will take to run its course before the patient dies.

Are there signs that a patient might be ready for hospice services?

When the burden of treatment outweighs the benefits and/or the patient has had multiple hospitalizations over the last several months, he or she might be ready for hospice. Other indications include:

  • Repeat trips to the emergency department
  • Unrelieved pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Sudden or progressive decline in physical functioning and eating
  • Weight loss/difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath/oxygen dependence

What happens to my family member's existing doctor?

Our physicians and team members work with his/her doctor to ensure clinical and emotional needs are being met and that care is being carried out appropriately. His/her doctor chooses his or her level of participation in your care.

I think my Mom may need a hospital bed at home. Do you provide this kind of equipment?

We understand that sometimes a hospital bed or Geri chair makes it easier for the family caregiver to attend to the patient at home. Medications, supplies and “durable medical equipment” are part of The Community Care Hospice Team’s plan of care for the patient. Oxygen, a special lift for over the bed, a bedside toilet, incontinence supplies or medications that are related to their terminal disease would all be equipment that would be provided. The family is included in discussions of the plan of care and what the patient needs to be comfortable.

My Dad is in long-term care. Why would he need Hospice?

Long-term care facilities focus on routine daily care and rehabilitation. Nursing home residents who receive hospice services get additional, customized support determined by their plan of care, which focuses on the physical, emotional and spiritual end-of-life needs of patients and their families.

What happens after my loved one dies?

Ideally, a member of your Community Care Hospice Team will be at the bedside at the time of death, able to explain the stages of death, make necessary phone calls, prepare the body and support the family in the first few hours. He or she will arrange for the body to be removed or, if the family would like to wait, perhaps until a family member arrives, that can be arranged as well. If a member of our team is not present at the death, he or she will arrive as soon as you call us.

Is there a fee for a hospice consultation?

We do not charge fees for eligibility consultations. Call us at (256) 767-1322 or go to our online form by clicking here.