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Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When is the right time for hospice care?
A:  It is appropriate to discuss all care options, including hospice, at any time during a life-limiting illness For example, our Outreach Palliative Care program serves seriously ill people not yet ready for hospice. Home Health provides skilled services in the home to people not on hospice. Those patients may still be getting curative treatment. Hospice of the Valley offers care for people throughout the continuum of a disease.

Q. What criteria must a patient meet to go on hospice?
A. The patient must want hospice care, which involves a shift from curative treatment to palliative or comfort care. A physician must certify that the patient has a life-limiting illness and likely has six months or less to live. Patients can be recertified to continue receiving hospice benefits past that point.

Q. Should I wait for our physician to suggest hospice or should I bring it up first?
A. The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy and friends. If your physician is not familiar with hospice, invite him or her to call us at 602.530.6900. Or ask us to contact your physician. Anyone can call to request an evaluation for hospice care – including the patient and family caregiver.

Q: How does Hospice of the Valley develop a plan of care for each patient?
A:  The plan of care is developed through conversation among all members of the hospice team – including the patient and family caregiver. The goals and wishes of the patient and family caregiver determine the plan. You are in charge. The hospice team meets periodically to discuss the care plan, how things are going and whether changes are appropriate.   

Q: Will my loved one need to move into a hospice facility?
A: Most Hospice of the Valley patients are cared for in their own homes or wherever they live – a group home, assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Patients who need round-the-clock nursing care for a limited period may stay at one of our palliative care units Valleywide.

Q: Is there any special equipment to buy or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
A: Hospice of the Valley staff will assess your needs, recommend any necessary equipment and help make arrangements to obtain it. Equipment such as wheelchairs, oxygen and hospital beds are covered by the Medicare hospice benefit and insurance plans, as are medications related to the life-limiting diagnosis.

Q:  Is there a respite option for caregivers?
A:  Yes, Medicare has a respite benefit. Patients can stay for up to five days at a nursing home or hospice inpatient facility so the caregiver can rest or take some time off. Hospice of the Valley can help arrange this.

Q. Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery go off hospice and resume regular medical treatment?
A. Certainly. If the patient's condition improves, the patient can be discharged from hospice and return to getting regular treatment. If a discharged patient elects to return later to hospice care, that's also ok. Medicare allows people to go on and off hospice as needed.

Q. Do you provide help to the family after the patient dies?
A. Hospice of the Valley provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Grief support groups are offered to anyone in the community who has experienced the death of a family member, a friend or a loved one.