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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to questions we frequently hear.

Who is eligible for hospice care?

When an individual begins to experience a decline in regular self-care capabilities or other life-limiting symptoms, their doctor may suggest they consider hospice care. Once the doctor determines that the path of curative treatments is no longer appropriate and estimates life expectancy to be six months or less based on the Medicare Hospice Criteria, referrals can be made for hospice services.  While an individual must have a doctor’s referral to receive hospice care, they, or a family member, can call us without a referral to talk about options and to initiate the process.

People of any age, with any of the following illnesses, may be appropriate for a hospice referral if eligibility criteria are met.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Stroke or coma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia
  • Heart disease, such as Congestive heart failure or Coronary artery disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease, such as COPD or Pulmonary fibrosis
  • General decline in condition due to age or multiple health conditions
This list does not cover every condition however if there are any questions regarding eligibility or how we might offer Hospice care and support, please contact VNA Home Health Hospice.

When to call VNA’s Hospice team?

For some, there may be a time when the burden of life-prolonging treatments and interventions outweighs the benefit.  At those times, shifting the focus to comfort and symptom management can potentially improve quality of life for one’s remaining time.  Although some people think that hospice is only for the last days of life, in fact, people can benefit from hospice services while they are still quite active. Our hospice team can provide clinical, social, and emotional support to help clients make the most of each day.  At VNA, our experienced team works closely with each individual and family to provide assistance and support throughout the process.  A VNA Hospice team member is happy to visit individuals and their families to discuss services and answer questions with no obligation to initiate service.

Who provides hospice care?

At VNA, our hospice team is made up of an experienced and dedicated team of the hospice medical director, nurses, social workers, home health aides, spiritual care coordinator, bereavement support counselor, and trained volunteers as well as patient’s own physician. 

Where does hospice provide care?

Through VNA, services may be provided wherever you call home – a house, apartment, nursing home or assisted living facility.  Should a person require more care than can be provided in their current setting, the hospice team is often able to assist families in identifying resources to coordinate increased care services.

Can hospice care continue after six months?

Studies show that engaging hospice care early on can actually prolong life and improve life quality. Some people live beyond their original prognosis once their pain and symptoms are under control.  The VNA Hospice team will continue to provide the same care as long as the qualifying criteria for hospice are met.

Does hospice “take over” care and decision-making?

No.  Hospice merely implements the plans and wishes of the patient and family. Individuals and their families remain in charge of coordinating care and making medical decisions.  The role of the hospice team is one of support, guidance, education, and collaboration.  Hospice team members will provide information and options and assist with coordinating a plan that centers on the unique goals and needs of each person we serve and their family.

How is hospice care paid for?

Medicare and Medicaid cover 100% hospice care.  Most insurance plans have a hospice benefit included in their coverage.  If you do not have insurance or are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, our staff may be able to provide assistance in identifying resources.  VNA Home Health Hospice provides care regardless of a client’s ability to pay.  Accessing the Hospice benefit can save on some medical expenses as Durable Medical Equipment, such as wheelchairs, oxygen, or hospital beds, and medications related to comfort and symptom management are covered at 100%.

Why ask for VNA?

VNA Home Health Hospice provides a coordinated spectrum of services.  Our hospice nurses are trained to focus on comfort, pain management and quality of life. Specially trained social workers, chaplains, and volunteers provide additional support in a variety of ways including counseling, friendly visits and assistance with errands. VNA also offers skilled nursing services, physical and occupational therapy, wound care specialists, and the LifeStages companion services so that any level of care needs can be arranged, coordinated and implemented smoothly.  Additionally, VNA’s partnership with EMHS facilitates continuity in moving across the spectrum from acute to home care.