Understanding Hospice Care

What is hospice care?

Hospice care is a compassionate approach to end-of-life care, providing medical, emotional, and spiritual support to patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families. Our goal is to enhance the quality of remaining life by managing pain and symptoms and supporting the family.

When is the Right Time to Ask About Hospice?

The best time to explore hospice options is before you think you need it. Discussing hospice care early allows you to make informed decisions and establish care preferences for yourself or your loved one.

When Should You Consider Hospice?

Consider hospice when a life-limiting illness prognosis of six months or less is given if the disease follows its natural course. It's also appropriate when the focus shifts from curative treatments to comfort care.

What distinguishes Santa Maria Hospice from other hospice care providers?

At Santa Maria Hospice, our personalized approach to care sets us apart. Our team of caring professionals and trained volunteers is dedicated to providing a richer, fuller, and more meaningful life for our patients, ensuring every moment left is dignified, comfortable, and peaceful.

How is the care plan developed for each patient?

Care plans are collaboratively developed by our interdisciplinary team, the patient, and their family. This plan is based on a comprehensive assessment of the patient's medical, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, ensuring personalized and holistic care.

What is the scope of home health aide services?

Home health aides provide personal care services, including bathing, dressing, and grooming, to ensure the patient's comfort and dignity at home.

Can hospice care be provided in a nursing home or assisted living facility?

Yes, we deliver hospice care in various settings, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, ensuring patients receive compassionate care wherever they reside.

Getting Started with Hospice

How Can You Get Hospice Care?

Hospice care begins with a referral, which can be made by a doctor, healthcare professional, family member, or even the patient themselves. Following the referral, our team conducts an assessment to discuss care needs and preferences.

What If You Live Longer Than Six Months?

If you or your loved one lives beyond the initial six-month prognosis, hospice care can continue as long as the attending physician certifies that the hospice eligibility criteria are met.

Can a Hospice Patient Return to Regular Medical Treatment?

Yes, patients can choose to leave hospice care at any time to pursue curative treatments. If the situation changes, they can be readmitted to hospice care later.

Eligibility and Admission

How Does the Admission Process Work?

Starting hospice care is straightforward. Contact us, and a team member will arrange a visit to assess needs, discuss hospice care, and develop a care plan.

What specific criteria determine a patient's eligibility for hospice care?

Eligibility is based on the clinical judgment of the patient's primary physician and our Hospice Medical Director, indicating that the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less if the illness runs its usual course.

Can you explain the admission process to Santa Maria Hospice in more detail?

The process starts with a simple call to our agency. A nurse then visits the patient and family at home or in the hospital to present information about our program. If the patient elects our program, we make all necessary arrangements for admission, ensuring a seamless transition to hospice care.

Care and Services

How Does Hospice Manage Pain and Symptoms?

Our interdisciplinary team, including physicians and nurses, uses the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom management. We address physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, tailoring care to each patient's needs.

Does Pain Medication Shorten Life Expectancy?

No, our focus is on making patients as comfortable as possible without hastening or postponing death. The proper use of pain medication does not shorten life expectancy.

Will Someone from Hospice Be Here All the Time?

Hospice provides intermittent visits from our care team, not continuous in-home care. We teach families how to care for their loved one and are available 24/7 for support and emergency visits.

What specialized services does Santa Maria Hospice offer for pain management?

Our hospice employs the latest techniques and medications for pain and symptom management, tailored to each patient's needs. Our team includes specialists who stay up-to-date on the most effective methods to ensure comfort and quality of life.

Are bereavement services available to anyone, or just the families of patients?

While our bereavement services primarily support the families of our patients, we extend support to anyone in the community needing help coping with grief and loss.

How does Santa Maria Hospice support the spiritual needs of patients?

Recognizing the diverse spiritual needs of our patients, we provide spiritual support tailored to each individual, facilitated by our spiritual counselors who work alongside the care team.

How often does the hospice team visit the patient?

The frequency of visits is determined by the patient's individual care plan, which is based on their specific needs and wishes. This can vary and will be adjusted as needed.

What happens if a patient's health improves?

If a patient's condition improves significantly, they may be discharged from hospice care. However, should they require our services later, they can be readmitted under the original or a new eligibility assessment.

Are families trained to provide care to their loved ones?

Yes, part of our service includes educating and supporting family members on how to care for their loved ones, ensuring they feel competent and confident in providing care, with our team always available for guidance.

How is pain and symptom management tailored for each patient?

Our approach to pain and symptom management is highly personalized, based on ongoing assessments of the patient's condition and preferences, utilizing a wide range of therapies and medications to ensure comfort.

Financial Questions

How Are Hospice Services Paid For?

Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, and HMOs. We work with families to ensure coverage and minimize out-of-pocket costs.

If You’re Covered by Medicare, Will There Be Any Additional Expenses?

No, the Medicare Hospice Benefit covers all services and supplies related to the hospice diagnosis without additional costs to the patient or family.

Does Santa Maria Hospice require financial contributions from families?

While hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medi-Cal, and most insurance plans, we also rely on community support through donations. However, we never deny care based on a patient's financial situation.

What expenses might be incurred outside of the Medicare Hospice Benefit?

Typically, the Medicare Hospice Benefit covers all related services and supplies. Any potential additional expenses would be discussed transparently with the patient and family during the care planning process.

The Hospice Team and Care Locations

Who Makes Up the Hospice Care Team?

Our team includes physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, spiritual counselors, and trained volunteers, all working together to provide holistic care.

Where Is Hospice Care Provided?

We provide care wherever the patient calls home, including private residences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential care facilities.

How can the community support Santa Maria Hospice?

Community support is invaluable to our mission. Donations, volunteering, and spreading awareness of hospice care benefits are significant ways the community can help.

Does Santa Maria Hospice provide care to non-English speaking patients?

Yes, we strive to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of all our patients by offering services in multiple languages and matching patients with staff who can communicate effectively in the patient's preferred language.

Additional Support and Information

How Does Santa Maria Hospice Support Families?

Beyond patient care, we offer bereavement support, counseling, and resources to help families cope with grief and loss.

Are There Any Additional Costs for Supplies or Equipment?

All necessary medical equipment and supplies related to the hospice diagnosis are covered under the hospice benefit, ensuring there are no additional costs.

Can Care Be Customized According to Religious or Cultural Preferences?

Yes, we respect and accommodate the religious, spiritual, and cultural needs of our patients and their families in the care plan.

What Happens to Medications the Patient Was Taking Before Hospice?

Our care team will review and adjust medications to focus on comfort and symptom management, discontinuing those not aligned with hospice goals.

How Can Volunteers Support the Patient and Family?

Volunteers offer companionship, respite for caregivers, assistance with errands, and emotional support, enriching the hospice care experience.

What role do volunteers play in patient care?

Our volunteers offer a variety of services, including companionship, respite care for family members, assistance with household tasks, and emotional support, enriching the hospice experience for patients and families.

Is hospice care available for children with life-limiting conditions?

Yes, Santa Maria Hospice provides pediatric hospice care, tailored to meet the special needs of children facing life-limiting conditions and their families.

How are complaints or concerns addressed by Santa Maria Hospice?

We are committed to providing the highest quality care and encourage feedback. Concerns or complaints can be directed to our staff or management team, who will address them promptly and thoroughly.

Specific Situations

If You’re Receiving Radiation, Can You Go on Hospice?

Patients receiving radiation may need to complete their treatment before starting hospice care, as hospice focuses on comfort care rather than curative treatments.