The HOPE of Wisconsin - Illustration by Robin Chapman

The Hospice Organization & Palliative Experts


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Frequently Asked Questions

How does Hospice work?

Hospice care is considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end of life. It involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Support is extended to the patient’s family and loved ones as well. At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. The focus is on caring (palliative), not curing. Hospice care is provided in the patient’s home — freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities — wherever patients call home. Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, marital status, gender, or illness. Typically, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make decisions for the terminally ill individual. Members of the hospice staff make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other services. Hospice staff are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What is the Hospice Team?

The hospice team is composed of everyone who is concerned with the patient’s care. The team develops a care plan that meets each patient’s individual needs for pain management and symptom control. The patient and family (may include relatives, friends, neighbors, or extended family) are at the core of the hospice team and are at the center of all decision-making. Other team members and their functions are:

  • The patient’s personal physician.
  • Hospice medical director consults the hospice team and the patient’s doctor.
  • A hospice nurse coordinates the care to ensure the patient’s comfort.
  • Social worker helps the family to coordinate services and identify community resources.
  • Spiritual caregiver provides spiritual support and works with the patient’s community of faith.
  • Home health aide assists with bathing and other personal cares.
  • Trained volunteers provide a variety of services, including companionship and respite care, to give the family a rest.
  • Speech, physical, nutritional, and occupational therapists are available if needed.
  • Grief counselor provides support for your family.

How does Hospice Care begin?

Hospice care starts as soon as a formal request is made. This can be a referral by the patient’s doctor or it can be a request from the patient or family member. If at all possible, a hospice staff person will visit the patient on the day the referral is made. Usually care is ready to begin within a day or two of a referral. However, in an urgent situation, service may begin sooner.

What does the Physician do?

In consultation with the patient’s primary doctor, the hospice staff will determine how much he or she will be involved in the patient’s care after hospice care begins. Most often, hospice patients can choose to have their personal doctor involved in the medical care. Both the patient’s physician and the hospice medical director may work together to coordinate the patient’s medical care, especially when symptoms are difficult to manage. Regardless, a physician’s involvement is important to ensure quality hospice care. The hospice medical director is also available to answer questions the patient or family may have regarding hospice medical care.

Are Hospices inspected and evaluated?

In Wisconsin, hospice care can only be provided by licensed hospices. They are highly regulated by both the federal and state government as well as by professional organizations. These organizations survey hospices to see whether they are providing care that meets defined standards. These reviews consider the customary practices of the hospice, such as policies and procedures, medical records, personal records, evaluation studies, and in many cases also include visits to patients and families currently under care of the hospices.

How is Hospice paid for?

Medicare, private health insurance, Medicaid, and HIRSP cover hospice care for patients who meet eligibility criteria. As with any health care program, there may be co-pays and deductibles that families pay in individual cases. While each hospice has its own policies concerning payment for care, it is a tradition of hospice care to offer services based upon need, rather than ability to pay.

Where are Hospices located?

To find the hospice nearest you, call the HOPE toll-free number: 1-800-210-0220. Most are also listed under Hospice in the yellow pages of the phone book. You can also locate the hospice nearest you with information about how to contact them by clicking on Hospices of Wisconsin.

What are Hospice Houses?

Wisconsin is one of the leaders in the development of Hospice Houses. There are currently eight throughout the state with more in planning stages. These are residential facilities available to patients who can no longer reside in a private residence. Hospice staff can help in determining if a particular insurance policy covers this type of care and how the hospice arranges for payment.

What are Advance Directives?

They are documents also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will. Although a patient is not required to have them to receive hospice care, they are the documents that help the family make decisions according to the patient’s wishes. Competent adults have the right to make their own health care decisions, including the right to decide what kind of medical care to accept, reject, or discontinue, and to so instruct their health care agents by use of these documents.

For more complete information, including where to obtain the forms, click on Advance Directives on this website.

The HOPE of Wisconsin is a proud member of:

       Community Hospice Partnership       National Quality Forum       The Hospice and Palliative Care Organization       Wisconsin Nonprofits           

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