Myth & Facts About Hospicecare

Agrace is committed to helping people understand what to expect when they choose to enroll in hospice care. Below are responses to some of the most common misconceptions we hear about  hospice services. Please contact us if you have a question that is not answered here.

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Myth: A person must be very close to death in order to enroll in Agrace HospiceCare.

Fact: People are eligible for Agrace HospiceCare when they have a life expectancy ofsix months or less and have a primary goal of comfort, not cure. They do not need to be bedbound, wheelchair-bound or even homebound to enroll. Patients and their families can benefit from having this extended time to identify and achieve end-of-life goals with the ongoing support of Agrace’s staff.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare is only available to people who have health insurance.

Fact: For most patients, hospice care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance. However, when people who need our care do not have coverage from those payment sources, the Agrace Foundation’s Care for All program can cover some or all of the cost of care for patients who demonstrate financial need.

Myth: When people enroll with Agrace HospiceCare, they have to give up Medicare.

Fact: When a patient with Medicare chooses to enroll in hospice, their standard Medicare benefits continue—for items and services that are not related to their terminal illness. Care that is related to their terminal illness is typically included within theMedicare hospice benefit, which pays for covered items and services that are provided or arranged by Agrace.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare will “take over.”

Fact: Agrace’s hospice care is a team effort. The patient and their family lead the team and control their care by defining their specific needs; then Agrace’s staff works with them to support the patient’s and family’s wishes. If the patient lives in a nursing or assisted living facility, Agrace’s staff works in conjunction with the facility’s staff to care for the patient.

Myth: The patient’s personal doctor is no longer involved after the patient enrolls in hospice.

Fact: A patient’s own doctor (or other health care provider) remains their primary doctor after they enroll with Agrace and becomes a part of the patient’s hospice team. Our staff works closely with the patient’s doctor, who continues to order medications, treatments and other symptom-management support for the patient.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare patients cannot be hospitalized.

Fact: Agrace staff are experienced at managing the symptoms and problems at home that would normally require a patient to be hospitalized. However, when pain or symptoms cannot be managed at home, hospitalization is an option. Agrace patients also have the option of receiving short-term, acute care at the Agrace Inpatient Unit, rather than at a hospital.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare provides around-the-clock nursing care.

Fact: Agrace HospiceCare provides intermittent in-home nursing visits and specialized assistance with personal care. Our patients have access to a nurse and a social worker any time of day or night for information, support and problem-solving, either by phone or a home visit. If patients need in-home assistance for extended periods or around the clock, we can help them find and arrange this type of care, but it is the financial responsibility of the patient/family. Agrace’s staff will work closely with any caregivers the patient or family hires.

Myth: All hospice patients must have “do not resuscitate” (DNR) status.

Fact: Agrace patients make their own choice about whether they prefer to be resuscitated or to die naturally in the event their heart or breathing stops. “Do not resuscitate” status is not required to be an Agrace patient. When patients enroll, the Agrace team will talk with them and their family, guardian or health care agent to be certain their end-of-life wishes and advance directives are known to and fulfilled by their Agrace care team.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare patients cannot receive treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and blood transfusions.

Fact: Agrace HospiceCare can enroll patients who are receiving these types of treatments—
if the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less and their goal in receiving care is comfort, not cure. Such treatments are most commonly approved when their purpose is to relieve symptoms of the patient’s terminal illness or to help the patient achieve a time-bound goal.

Myth: When a patient enrolls with Agrace HospiceCare, their care is provided at Agrace’s Inpatient Unit.

Fact: About 95 percent of our services are provided in patients’ homes, including private residences, and assisted living or nursing homes. However, some patients come to Agrace’s Inpatient Unit for short-term, acute care if their symptoms cannot be managed at home and they prefer not to be hospitalized.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare is limited to six months. Patients are discharged if they don’t die within six months.

Fact: Agrace HospiceCare services are available as long as the patient continues to meet the criteria for hospice care: life expectancy of six months or less and a primary goal of comfort, not cure. If a patient stabilizes or they experience a steady improvement in their health,
they may be discharged from Agrace HospiceCare. Patients may be readmitted to Agrace
at any time if their health declines and their life expectancy again meets the six-month prognosis criteria.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare only cares for people with cancer.

Fact: Agrace HospiceCare is appropriate for people with any life-limiting condition when the primary goal of care is to maintain comfort, manage symptoms and help the individual remain as active as possible. This includes patients with heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, lung disease, end-stage liver disease, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS and other life-limiting conditions.

Myth: Agrace HospiceCare focuses on the acceptance of death.

Fact: Agrace HospiceCare recognizes that we all have different and unique goals, beliefs and coping strategies. Agrace does not force discussions about the acceptance of death, but staff remain available to discuss any issues important to patients and their families.

Myth: People receiving care from Agrace HospiceCare must die at home.

Fact: While most people receiving care from Agrace wish to die at home, other arrangements and support services are available.