While hospice care has been adopted by more and more individuals, there remain a number of myths and misconceptions about the hospice philosophy and the facts about palliative care. Unfortunately, these misconceptions can lead to patients and their families missing out on beneficial services. As with any type of medical treatment and care, education is important in order to allow patients to make the best decisions for them. With that in mind, here are three of the most common and detrimental myths about hospice care and the truth behind them.
Medicare uses benefit periods, which last 90 days. This practice has led to the belief that hospice care has a time limit and is only for patience with 6-months or less left to live. This time frame comes from a typical Medicare estimate that hospice patience only need two benefit periods. What many people don’t know, however, is that Medicare allows you to receive an unlimited amount of 60-day benefit periods after that initial 6-months should you need it. Palliative care isn’t designed to shorten or lengthn life, but the reduction of stress and increase in comfort often affects health in a positive way. It’s even an option to go off hospice care and come back when it’s needed. At no point would a patient be refused care, however, due to the length of time they’ve received hospice.
No one is quite sure where this myth comes from, but it states that hospice care is administered at a specific facility and patients are required to go there to receive care. This is completely untrue. Rather than a physical location, hospice is a philosophy that allows patients to make choices for their end of life. That means a patient could be in a hospital, nursing home, or in their own home and still be a candidate for hospice care. Services are provided 24/7 and are even available when the patient’s finances are depleted. The idea of hospice is to make patients more comfortable and to work with their needs, so requiring them to visit a specific facility or make a specific choice is outside the philosophy.
While it’s already been mentioned that hospice is a relief-based approach, rather than a curative one, the decision to go off medications is left up to the patient. Some medications can be a cause of discomfort and it may be the recommendation of the hospice provider that the patient discontinue use of it, but to say that hospice requires patients to stop taking medications is inaccurate. In order to receive the maximum benefit from palliative care, recommendations are made to increase comfort and reduce stress. Sometimes that coincides with going off medication, but sometimes the patient prefers to continue medications and other recommendations and considerations are made.
Once you understand that hospice care is a philosophy focused on making patients more comfortable, many of the myths associated with hospice are easy to discern.
To learn more about hospice care or to find out if you or a loved one is right for it, contact us at Cura-HPC.