A patient may receive care any time after the diagnosis of a life limiting illness. Normally this is for six months, however, services can be provided longer as long as the patient meets the hospice care criteria.
Hospice is designed for patients who have reached a point in their illness when curative treatment is no longer beneficial. This is when the focus of care should begin to shift from curative to comfort care. However, when to make that shift is an intensely personal decision. In these situations, a patient should discuss all health care options, including hospice care, with their doctor and family.
Unfortunately, many people are under the mistaken impression that hospice care is not available to patients until they are in the final days of their life. This is not the case. Although hospice patients still receive expert medical treatment, the goal is not to cure, but to improve the quality of life — physically, emotionally and spiritually. For this reason, the earlier a patient elects to receive hospice care, the more that can be done. The additional benefit of hospice care is the family support services we offer. Our hospice team is available to patients and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions or to address concerns.
Choosing hospice does not mean you are giving up. It is simply a means of hope, support, comfort and dignity for patients and their families during one of the most difficult times of their lives. At times, however, a terminally ill patient’s terminal disease process improves or may enter the remission stage. If this were to occur, your doctor may feel that you are no longer medically eligible for hospice. Also, as a hospice patient you always have the right to decline these services for any reason without penalty, if you feel it’s not right for you or decide to actively pursue curative treatment again. If you choose to stop hospice services or your condition improves, you will be discharged from the program; however, you can always qualify for hospice again at a later date.