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Frequently Asked Questions


What is hospice?

Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on improving the quality of life for people and their families faced with a life-limiting illness. Hospice care provides comfort, relieve physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering, and promotes the life affirming goals of all patients. Hospice care neither prolongs nor hastens the dying process.

When is it time for hospice care?

The decision to enter hospice care can be made at the time of the diagnoses of a terminal disease or later in the course of treatment. As long as your physician certifies that you have a limited life expectancy of six months or less and you and your family desire no further aggressive/curative treatment, you are eligible for hospice.

What if I don’t have a cancer diagnosis?

More than one-half of hospice patients nation-wide have diagnoses other than cancer. Hospices are also serving families coping with the end-stages of chronic diseases, like emphysema, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular diseases.

Where can I receive hospice care?

Hospice is not a physical location. Hospice care can be provided in a person’s home, nursing home, hospital, or independent facility devoted to end-of-life care.

What kind of care will I receive?

Hospice care is holistic. It focuses on the needs of both the patient and the family. Care is provided by an interdisciplinary team including the physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, home health aide, volunteers, nutritionist, and bereavement specialits.

Has my doctor “given up” on me by referring me to hospice?

For many patients, the involvement of the primary physician in hospice care provides reassurance that their doctors are NOT “giving up” on them. Even if you are no longer being offered curative medical options there is much that can be done to improve quality of life and mange pain and symptoms.

Is hospice care the same as palliative care?

No, hospice care is not the same as palliative care. Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Hospice care is designed to give supporti to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and focus on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure. Both hospice and palliative care share the goals of relieving suffering and improving quality of life.

Will it be difficult to take care of a hospice patient at home?

Despite the challenges of providing care for a loved one who is ill, many families say that they are grateful for the opportunity to spend this time with their loved one. It can be a deeply rewarding experience for everyone involved. Your hospice team will be your partners through this experience by providing you with education and support to help you learn the skills and tasks you need to care for your loved one at home.

What will the hospice team do for me?

Your nurse can provide education about medications that can manage the symptoms your loved one is experiencing. Your social worker and bereavement specialist will provide counseling and support to assist you. Your spiritual needs can be addressed by your chaplain. Volunteers may also be able to provide assistance and support while your loved one is on hospice.

Will I need to buy my own equipment?

Most insurance policies, Medicare and Medicaid cover all the equipment that you need. Most often this includes a hospital bed, a commode, oxygen, a walker, a shower chair and a wheelchair. If additional equipment is needed, your hospice team can assist.

What if I just need a break?

There may come a time during the course of your loved one’s illness that you as a caregiver need some time away from the tasks of care giving. The Hospice Respite Care Benefit is designed to provide a temporary, short-term break for caregivers caring for a Hospice patient. This benefit provides ongoing care in a facility for up to 5 days to allow family caregivers a break. For example, many patients and families use respite care to attend a family event, take a short vacation, etc.

Can I really be a long distance caregiver if my loved one is on Good Shepherd Hospice?

Your hospice team is here to work with you. Your team will make visits and can call you and keep you apprised of all that you need to know about your loved one from far away.

What support is available to me as a caregiver of a patient on Good Shepherd Hospice after my loved one has died?

Good Shepherd Hospice provides comprehensive and accessible bereavement support and education to families in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Extensive bereavement support and education are offered for a period of 13 months after the death of your loved one. Bereavement services are available at no charge to you.

Do I have to sign a DNR to receive hospice services?

No, you do not have to be DNR to receive hospice services.

**It is the policy of Good Shepherd Hospice to inform all patients and families concerning Advance Directives.

Advance Directives means

  • Information regarding Health Care Proxy
  • Explanation of resuscitation and do not resuscitate status
  • Your right to refuse treatment and an explanation of the consequences
  • Informed consent for care and treatment
  • Explanation and copy of the Patient/Family Bill of Rights
  • The ability to ask questions regarding the risks and benefits of treatment and the provision of concise, understandable answers to your questions
  • The responsibility of Good Shepherd Hospice to educate the entire community re: Advance Directives.