What is Hospice Care?

Mar 15, 2023

Many people have heard the term “hospice care” but are often unfamiliar with the benefits of hospice, or unsure of when to begin receiving care.

Tri-Cities Chaplaincy is here to answer all your hospice questions.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice is a Medicare-certified benefit that provides physical, emotional, and spiritual care to a patient in the last months of their life. Hospice works best for patients who begin receiving care as early as possible, rather than waiting for the final days or weeks. Beginning care when there are still months of life left helps patients take full advantage of all we can do to provide peace, comfort, and quality of life.

Everyone takes a last breath, but nobody fully knows what to expect. Hospice helps patients and their families navigate the uncertainty, newness, and challenges of end-of-life.

When Does a Person Qualify for Hospice Care?

Hospice is for those who have a life expectancy of six months or less. If a person isn’t sure how long they have left, they’re encouraged to speak with their physician and ask a simple question that we call The Surprise Question: “Would you be surprised if I died in the next six months?” If the answer to that question is, “No, I wouldn’t be surprised”, then that person is qualified for hospice. Learn more about The Surprise Question by watching our Surprise Question video on YouTube.

An individual might also qualify for hospice care if they decide they want to begin receiving comfort care, rather than curative treatment. If you are unsure about whether it’s time to begin hospice care, our nurses are here to discuss your exact needs, address your concerns, and answer questions.

What Does End of Life Look Like in Hospice Care?

When people are on hospice care for the final months of their life, they benefit from being comfortable in every way. They experience physical and medical comfort, as well as spiritual and emotional comfort.

Physically and medically, hospice patients experience pain and symptom management from their nurses and medical directors. Patients experience decreased crises and trips to the hospital. Their physical comfort allows them to enjoy doing activities they love with the people they cherish.

Spiritually and emotionally, patients receive care and guidance to ensure a comfortable mind and spirit. Our social workers and chaplains are available to guide conversations, offer resources, and assist with difficult feelings or conversations.

Is Hospice Care Just for the Patient?

Hospice care is not just for the patient; we also provide emotional and spiritual care to the patient’s families and loved ones. After a patient dies, we provide free bereavement care for a year. Hospice is all-inclusive care for the entire family.

How Does Somebody Begin Hospice Care?

Beginning hospice care is easy. A consult or referral for hospice does not require a physician. A patient or family member can begin a referral themselves at chaplaincyhealthcare.org/hospice or by calling (509) 783-7416.

Individuals approaching end-of-life are encouraged to try hospice, even if they aren’t certain it’s how they want to spend their remaining months. If a patient begins care and decides it isn’t the right fit for them, they can always revoke care and be discharged from our services.

If you have more questions about hospice care, call (509) 783-7416, visit our hospice webpage or email us.