What Is Hospice?

Welcome to our resource center for patients and families. You can get many of your questions answered here.

  • Hospice services provide care when cure is not possible
  • Hospice care is focused on the whole person so that emotional, social, and spiritual needs are addressed along with physical
  • Family members also receive care and support
  • Hospice care is skilled, aggressive, and compassionate with the goals of comfort, freedom from pain, and giving the person as much independence and control for as long as possible
  • Most hospice care is delivered to the person in his or her home, wherever that may be. Care is provided by a team of professionals, each addressing a different aspect of the person’s needs. Volunteers are also available for extra help and to give family members a break
  • Inpatient options are available in assisted living, nursing, hospital, and dedicated hospice facilities. The most common complaint about hospice is that patients did not enroll soon enough for them and their families to benefit from the full spectrum of care
  • Hospice services are fully covered under Medicare Part A; Medicaid and many private insurance plans offer a hospice benefit
  • Hospice admission under the Medicare Benefit requires that the person’s physician and the hospice medical director determine that the person is unlikely to live longer than 6 months if his or her illness is allowed to run its natural course. Admission under the benefit also requires that the person forego any treatments intended for cure of the illness
  • However, admission policies are more liberal now than in the past and definitions of what treatments are intended for cure vs. comfort may vary somewhat from hospice to hospice
  • Hospice care does not require that you give up regular maintenance medications or medications that improve comfort and quality of life
  • Hospice is not a one-way street -- admitted patients can “check out” or “revoke” at any time; nationally in 2006 about 17% of hospice patients were discharged either because they got better or resumed curative treatment
  • About 45% of Colorado residents who die each year receive hospice care. There are currently 50 hospice agencies in the state; almost all counties are served by at least one agency

Choosing Hospice - A Consumer's Guide