Frequently Asked Questions about Hospice Care

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hospice Care?

At the center of hospice is the belief that every person has the right to die in comfort and peace with dignity, and that families will receive the necessary support. The focus is on care, not cure. Care is provided in the patients' home or other appropriate setting. Providing a program of support and care for end of life patients and their families is the focus of AtlantiCare Hospice.

Hospice care is considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end of life. Hospice care utilizes a team of professionals and volunteers that emphasizes pain and symptom management, and addresses the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient and family. This model of care is tailored to the needs and wishes of patients and their loved ones.

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How does hospice care work?

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Hospice team is multidisciplinary. Whatever the medical need, we supply knowledgeable staff ready to provide care in the comfort of the patient's home. The patient's family or support group is an essential part of hospice, typically they are the primary caregivers on a daily basis.

The team works collaboratively focusing on the dying patient's needs, be they physical, psychological or spiritual. Members of the AtlantiCare Hospice staff make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other services. AtlantiCare Hospice is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hospice team develops a care plan that meets each patient's individual needs for pain management and symptom control. The goal is to help keep the patient as pain-free and aware as possible, while maintaining their contact with loved ones.

The team usually consists of:

  • Your Personal Physician continues to direct and approve medical care. The AtlantiCare Hospice team consults with and maintains a relationship with each patient's personal physician.
  • The AtlantiCare Hospice Medical Director oversees patient care and is the liaison with the patient's personal physician and serves as liaison to the medical community and the other members of the interdisciplinary team.
  • AtlantiCare Hospice Nurses are specially trained registered nurses available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our nurses do death pronouncements in the home.
  • Our Home Health Aides are specially trained to provide personal care for the patient, helping to preserve each person's dignity and independence.
  • Our Chaplain is able to assist patients, family and friends with spiritual needs honoring all denominations.
  • Our Social Workers provide the patient and his or her family with counseling on end of life financial and emotional issues.
  • Caring and dedicated volunteers are the heart of AtlantiCare Hospice. They are often people who have used AtlantiCare Hospice. All volunteers are extensively trained to deliver companionship and support to the patient and his or her caregivers.
  • AtlantiCare Hospice Bereavement Group maintains contact with "our families" for 13 months. AtlantiCare Hospice provides support through personal contact, letters and phone calls. AtlantiCare Hospice also offers support groups for families.

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What is a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who helps a person carry out the tasks of daily life. The title "caregiver" can fit a variety of people such as sons, daughters, parents, neighbors, friends as well as healthcare professionals.

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Who qualifies for Hospice?

Hospice care is for any person who has a life-limiting or terminal illness. Most reimbursement sources require a prognosis of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Patients with both cancer and non-cancer illnesses are eligible to receive hospice care. AtlantiCare Hospice considers the patient and family together as the unit of care.

A patient who medically qualifies for hospice care shall not be refused because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or ability to pay. AtlantiCare Hospice is a Medicare certified program.

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When and How do I call Hospice?

When curative treatment is no longer effective or when the patient decides the burden of treatment outweighs the benefits of treatment, hospice care is appropriate. Hospice can be a new beginning.

Arranging AtlantiCare Hospice care can be done directly by patients, families, physicians, nurses, case managers, discharge planners, social workers and insurance companies. Appropriate services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 609-272-2424. If this is a toll call for you, please use 1-888-744-0523.

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Where does Hospice care take place?

The majority of hospice patients are cared for in their own homes or the homes of loved ones. "Home" may also be in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as well as prisons.

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Hospice is available throughout Atlantic, Cape May, Ocean and Burlington Counties.

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What does a caregiver do?

Caregiving may come in the form of a weekly phone call, help with balancing a checkbook, cleaning the house, preparing meals, hiring and overseeing help, providing transportation, organizing and administering medications, sharing a home, bathing, toileting, feeding and dressing a patient.

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Palliative Care

In recent years, many hospice care programs added palliative care to their names to reflect the range of care and services they provide as hospice care and palliative care share the same core values and philosophies.

Defined by the World Health Organization in 1990, palliative care seeks to address not only physical pain, but also emotional, social, and spiritual pain to achieve the best possible quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care extends the principles of hospice care to a broader population that could benefit from receiving this type of care earlier in their illness or disease process.

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To make a referral

Arranging AtlantiCare Hospice can be done directly by patients, families, physicians, nurses, case managers, discharge planners, social workers and insurance companies. Appropriate services are available seven days a week by calling 609-272-2424. If this is a toll call for you, please use 1-888-744-0523. Our fax number is 609-272-2414.

Many times referrals for hospice care are not made until the patient has uncontrolled symptoms or is near death. While there is much we can do to assist at this time there is also much that can be done earlier. Many symptoms can be anticipated and managed by the hospice team in the patient's home. Quality of life for all involved can be much greater with earlier intervention.

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What should I ask a hospice program?

Hospice care is a philosophy of care that accepts dying as a natural part of life. When death is inevitable, hospice seeks neither to hasten nor postpone it. Below is a list of questions you should consider when looking for a hospice program.

  • What services are provided?
  • What kind of support is available to the family/caregiver?
  • What roles do the attending physician and hospice play?
  • What does the hospice volunteer do?
  • How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
  • How are services provided after hours?
  • How and where does hospice provide short-term inpatient care?
  • Can hospice be brought into a nursing home or long-term care facility?
  • Does my insurance pay for hospice?

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