Types of Care

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Living with a serious illness can impact every part of your life, but hospice and palliative care can help. In this section you will learn more about how hospice or palliative care may be right for you or your loved one. Please contact your nearest NPHI member organization to determine specifically which types of care they provide in your area.

Hospice Care

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a type of specialized medical care that provides compassionate physical, emotional, spiritual and practical support to people in the advanced stage of illness. During this time, individuals may experience shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, pain, and other distressing, life-limiting symptoms, giving rise to new and different needs, worries and concerns. Yet with hospice’s dedication to symptom relief and support, many critically ill people are better able to focus on what is important to them during this stage of life.

Delivered by an interdisciplinary team of experts, hospice care is designed to relieve pain and other symptoms and to help both patients and families improve their quality of life, typically in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

In fact, hospice has been shown to reduce Emergency Department visits and inpatient hospitalizations, improve quality of life and, in some cases, even extend it.

The Right Time for Hospice

A person can be in hospice for up to six months or even longer, depending upon the individual circumstances. To receive the greatest benefit, a patient should spend at least two to three months in hospice care.  Surveys show that both patients and families are more satisfied the longer a patient receives hospice services.  

As a result, hospice should be considered whenever someone is in the advanced stages of any of the following progressive illnesses:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease, especially Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Dementia
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), stroke
  • Kidney failure/End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
  • Lung disease including Congestive Pulmonary Obstructive Disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis
  • HIV/AIDS

Who Pays for Hospice?

It is important to understand what hospice benefits are offered under your specific type of insurance.

  • Any patient with Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) can automatically start hospice care by formally “electing” the benefit.  Electing means starting this specific part of Medicare Part A. With Medicare, most services are covered at no additional cost or have a small co-payment if care is provided or arranged by your hospice.
  • Those with Medicaid as their primary coverage may also elect the Medicaid Hospice Benefit. Most, but not all, state Medicaid programs cover hospice services.
  • If you have other types of insurance, hospice care is usually covered. It is best to check with the individual plan or your employer to understand the details and cost of what is provided.
  • If you do not have health insurance, our member providers will be happy to speak with you to give you information on what options you do have. No one is turned away for financial reasons.

Advanced Illness Care

What is Advanced Illness Care?

Advanced Illness Care (known as palliative care – pronounced PAL-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. It focuses on relieving the symptoms, pain and stress of illness, with the goal of improving quality of life for both the patient and family.

Who is Eligible?

Anyone, of any age, suffering from a progressive illness can access advanced illness care at any point in their treatment. Progressive illnesses are illnesses that may get worse overtime, and include but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Neurologic disease (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke)

How Can I Get Advanced Illness Care?

To start services, talk to your health care provider about getting an order for advanced illness care (known as palliative care). Advanced illness care can be provided along with treatments aimed at curing the disease or alone.

Either way, advanced illness care can help improve symptoms and ease concerns such as:

  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Emotional distress affecting patients and/or families
  • Confusion about what to expect in the weeks and months ahead
  • Other needs

Primary Care at Home

Elder care that delivers peace of mind in the comfort of your home. Many elders need better access to primary care due to advanced illness or disability that makes it hard to get to the doctor’s office.

Grief Support

Grief is a very normal and human response to loss. We recognize that each person who loses a loved one responds and grieves in unique ways. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is help and support if you or a loved one is grieving a loss. Counseling and support services can be a guide through some of the challenges of grieving as a person adjusts to their loss. Grief support and counseling can be provided by professionals. Self-help groups are often available and are there for participants to support one another. Consult a NPHI member program in your area (link to locator). Most hospice bereavement programs provide grief support to the community, regardless of whether a person’s loved one was cared for by hospice or not.

Veterans Health and Support Services

Do you have a loved one who is also a veteran? Did you know that experiencing military service, especially combat, colors the way that veterans face death? Veterans who face issues related to their military experiences find meaning in the emotional and spiritual components of hospice care. Support is even more crucial for those who do not have a strong network of family and friends. Providing end-of-life care for those who have served in our Armed Forces requires sensitivity, understanding and respect. Many of our member programs have dedicated programs to meet the special needs of veterans and can help them manage post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychosocial service-related issues, such as remorse, regret, anxiety and substance abuse. 

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