Washington Health System Hospice Care FAQs

When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern.  By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations.  Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones.


How does hospice care begin?
Hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor.  Often a hospice program representative will make an effort to visit the patient within 24-48 hours of that referral, providing the visit meets the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver.

 

Is hospice available anytime?
Hospice care is available ‘on-call’ after the administrative office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day with nurses available to respond with a phone call for help within minutes, if necessary a nursing visit can be discussed and arranged.

 

Do state and federal reviewers inspect and evaluate hospices?
Yes.  There are state licensure requirements that must be met by hospice programs in order for them to deliver care.  In addition, hospices must comply with federal regulations in order to be approved for reimbursement under Medicare.  Hospices must periodically undergo inspection to be sure they are meeting regulatory standards in order to maintain their license to operate and the certification that permits Medicare reimbursement.

 

Can you tell me about the “team” that will take care of me?
Our “team” is made up of hospice volunteers, registered nurses, social worker, home health aides, chaplain services, bereavement counselor and Medical Director (also known as the interdisciplinary team).  For each patient and family, the interdisciplinary team writes a care plan with the patient/family that is used to make sure the patient and family receive the care they need from the team.

 

All visits, however, are based on the patient and family needs as described in the care plan and the condition of the patient during the course of illness.  The frequency of volunteers and spiritual care is often dependent upon the family request and the availability of these services.