0
items

Dispelling Hospice Myths



  • Myth
    Hospice indicates that a person is giving up and losing hope.
    Truth

    For people with life-threatening disease or illness, the definition of hope can change over time as the disease progresses. Initially, hope may be for a curative treatment, but as medical options are exhausted and symptoms progress, hope may be defined by other measures. At end of life, most people hope for comfort, peace, and quality of life. Many are able to express hope around leaving legacies for their families. Even at end of life, families and hospice caregivers never give up caring for their loved ones, even if medical resources to cure or alter the course of illness have been exhausted. Hospice is medical and supportive care with the goal of comfort and dignity.

  • Myth
    Hospice is only for cancer patients
    Truth

    Not anymore. When hospice began in the U.S. in the mid-1970s, most hospice patients had cancer. Today, while many hospice patients have cancer, the majority have other life-limiting illnesses such as end-stage heart, lung or kidney disease, or Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

  • Myth
    Hospice is where you go to die
    Truth

    The vast majority of hospice patients receive care in their “home,” which includes private residences, assisted living communities, hospitals with specialty hospice units, and/or other residential care facilities, such as nursing homes. In some rare instances, hospice is a physical ‘place’ for people whose pain or other symptoms cannot be adequately managed in their home setting.

  • Myth
    Hospice means death is imminent.
    Truth

    SStudies show exactly the opposite. Although hospice care neither hastens death nor prolongs life, patients with certain illnesses actually live somewhat longer with hospice care than those with the same illness who don’t choose hospice care. And regardless of the illness, patient/family satisfaction with services received are consistently higher when hospice is involved.

  • Myth
    You can't keep your own doctor if you enter a hospice program.
    Truth

    A person’s family doctor or specialist is encouraged to remain engaged in care, even after hospice is providing care. The Hospice Physician works closely with the patient’s doctor, particularly during the transition to hospice care to determine the specific medical needs that will be addressed in an individual plan of care to make sure that the transition to hospice care is as seamless as possible.

  • Myth
    It is the doctor’s responsibility to bring up hospice.
    Truth

    Anyone, including primary care physicians or specialists, can bring up hospice care and initiate a hospice referral for anyone with any life-threatening illness. This includes family members. While anyone can ask for a hospice evaluation, two physicians will need to agree that the patient is eligible. Usually, one of these physicians will be the hospice agencies medical director, and the second one can by a family physician or specialist. In the rare instance the patient does not have another physician involved in their care, the hospice provider will generally be able to provide this service. 

  • Myth
    Once you choose hospice care there is no turning back.
    Truth

    Once enrolled in hospice care, patients are free to leave a hospice program at any time for any reason without penalty. Re-enrollment in a hospice program is possible as long a medical eligibility criteria are met.

  • Myth
    If you choose hospice care you won’t get other medical care.
    Truth

    While the hospice team will provide all aspects of care for the illness that qualifies someone for hospice services, patients are still free to seek treatment for unrelated illnesses or conditions. For example, if someone is receiving hospice care for heart disease and falls, they can still get treatment for a broken bone.

  • Myth
    Hospice requires a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order
    Truth

    The purpose and benefit of hospice care is to allow for a peaceful passing in a comfortable and familiar setting like home with loved ones near. While many people who enroll in hospice care wish to have a DNR to avoid unnecessary medical intervention and hospitalization, patients are not required to have a DNR to receive hospice care.

  • Myth
    All hospices are the same
    Truth

    There are thousands of hospices in the United States. If they participate with Medicare, as most do, they are required to provide certain services to the patient and documentation to the government. In that respect, they are the same. However, hospices may be nonprofit or for-profit; they may be community-based or serve many communities, cities or states from a central location; they may be independent or part of another organization such as a hospital, health system or private company. The point is that all hospices (that participate with Medicare) meet the same basic requirements although there likely are differences from one provider to the next.

  • Myth
    Disabled people can’t receive hospice care
    Truth

    Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) live much longer today and generally die of the same illnesses and conditions present in the general population. While state and local regulations may be barriers in some locations, the same hospice care provided to any patient/family is generally available to those with I/DD, whether in a group home or another residential setting, and can include support for direct care staff. Also, it is important to recognize and respect that many individuals with I/DD have the capacity to participate in decisions about their end-of-life care, whether through an advance directive or in conversation, and should be informed about their illness, the options available, and the type of care those choices involve.

  •