Hospice care is about increasing quality of life for patients facing life-limiting illnesses or health conditions by providing necessary services to the patient as well as their caregivers and family. Hospice care is holistic in its approach and may not be right for every patient, but the only way to determine whether hospice is necessary is to learn what hospice care is, how it works, can you have hospice care in assisted living or other community or facility setting and how hospice care gets paid for. Misconceptions about hospice care can sometimes cause anxiety, creating obstacles to a patient electing care. Hospice is designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families who are facing a life-limiting illness. This service focuses on comfort, pain management, and emotional well-being instead of curative care. Patients who have a life expectancy of 6 months or less are generally eligible for hospice under Medicare. Hospice is not a place to stay but rather a service that comes to the patient, whether that is a home, a family member’s home, an assisted living community, hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Can you bring hospice care in an assisted living community? 
Hospice care will come to you. So when a resident in an assisted living residence admits to hospice care, care is provided to the in their community. The hospice team will lead, guide and support the resident and family, all while communicating and assisting the care team at the community daily. If you still have questions, keep in mind that one of the important fundamental values of assisted living is the opportunity to have choices in decision making. Who pays for Hospice care? Hospice is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and many other insurance providers. For Medicare and Medicaid recipients, there is no copay for the resident. Now that you have some basic understanding of how hospice care works, let’s discuss some common misconceptions. Separating fact from fiction is the best way to determine whether hospice care is right for you or your loved one.

Electing hospice means I’ve given up.
It is a common misconception that hospice is about dying when it is designed to help terminally ill patients live their final days to the fullest. The goal of hospice care is to increase the patient’s quality of life and provide support for family members and caretakers to ensure that the patient’s final days are as comfortable as possible. Most families wish they had chosen to use hospice care sooner.

Your family has no control over care.
Hospice care is for the patient’s family and loved ones just as much as the patient. Throughout hospice care and following the patient’s passing, both the patient and their loved ones have access to support services, including grief counseling, social services, spiritual guidance and more. 

Hospice is only for cancer patients.
According to a 2018 report, nearly 70% of hospice care patients were admitted with a non-cancer primary diagnosis. This leaves more than about 30% of hospice patients having a primary diagnosis of cancer – that is by no means a majority. Cancer is universally understood to be one of the most aggressive forms of disease and one of the most difficult to treat. Though this may be true, hospice patients are admitted with a wide variety of diagnoses including heart disease (17.6%), dementia (15.6%), lung disease (11%), stroke (9.4%), and chronic kidneydisease (2.3%). Hospice case managers and medical professionals are trained to manage the symptoms of many conditions, not just cancer.