A: It’s the right time to call us when you or a loved one is faced with an advanced illness. Most families who use hospice services say they wish they had called sooner. When you call, one of our professional nurses will visit with you, giving you all the information you need about how we can help you and your family so you can make an informed decision. You have to acknowledge that hospice care is designed to be comfort care, not curative. The goal of hospice is to help a patient’s last months be as comfortable and pain free as possible, and many of our patients thrive under this personal care.

A: Hospice follows you to wherever you need or desire to live. Whether you’re in your own home, a family member’s or other private residence, a retirement home, assisted living facility, group home, or hospital, we can provide hospice care. If you change facilities, we will follow and even help with the arrangements to ensure your move is comfortable.

A: Hospice care focuses on care, not cure. It considers the patient and family’s needs together as a single unit. We emphasize quality of life and dignity, and nurture not only the patient’s physical body, but his or her emotional, spiritual, cultural, and social needs as well. Hospice care allows patients and the family to have a voice in the decisions for a comfortable care plan. It begins when a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months of less. During these final months, our focus is providing comfort care, to be as pain and symptom free as possible.

A: Hospice isn’t a place, but a concept of giving comfortable care wherever the patient is living. In the United States, 90% of hospice care is given in the home. This allows the patient and his or her family to be together and make treasured memories, while the patient can live in comfort and maintain dignity. When home care isn’t possible, care can be given in a contracting hospital or nursing facility.

A: Many of our patients have had cancer-related conditions, but many have other diagnoses. These include Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, failure to thrive, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and more. Any illness or injury resulting in a professional diagnosis of a 6 month or less life expectancy may be eligible for hospice care.

A: No, hospice is appropriate whenever a terminal prognosis is given, regardless of their physical condition. Many of our patients continue to live productively and have rewarding lives. The patient, family, and physician should make the decision to introduce hospice care together.

A: Medicare’s hospice program states if the patient lives beyond the initial 6 month life expectancy, he or she may still be eligible for hospice care if the physician recertifies the terminally ill prognosis. Medicare and other insurances continue to cover these services as long as they meet the hospice criteria.

A: No. Hospice advocates for physician involvement, working closely with the physician, family, and patient in making decisions for their care plan. Either home or office visits can be made, and the physician-patient relationship is a high priority.

A: Some patients respond to care and the illness goes into remission. Should that happen, the patient may return to curative care and be taken off hospice. If their condition worsens again, they can always come back to hospice care if they meet Medicare criteria.

A: No, it is not required, but it is encouraged.

A: If hospital admission is part of the hospice care plan, hospice continues to care for a patient after they are hospitalized. Sun Tree Hospice will provide case management services during their stay, including coordinating care and planning discharge, when applicable.