Myths about hospice
While the discipline of hospice has had a long history, there remains a general lack of clarity about its purpose among large swathes of the public. This has led to some stigmatizing myths that may discourage some people from choosing hospice. Yet, as we’ve discussed time and again, hospice has been shown to improve quality of life for those with life-limiting illness, and improve outcomes for their families. With this in mind, here are four myths about hospice that must be dispelled.
Hospice is where you go to die
While hospice is designed for those with six months or less to live, the focus of hospice is on life. No one “goes to hospice to die”. In fact, most people who die do so in the comfort of their own homes. The role of hospice is to focus on a patient’s life. They help patients determine what they want to get out of life in the last six months, and to make the most of their time. Another role of hospice is to provide relief through palliative care, respite, and counseling to patients and their families to help all involved through this difficult life transition. The idea that hospice is a place people go specifically to die is one of the myths about hospice everyone needs to leave behind.
In-home hospice care is expensive
This is one of the myths about hospice that stems from the idea that healthcare is expensive, and in-home hospice is a special service that costs extra. In reality, in-home hospice is covered just as much as in-patient hospice by Medicare Part A. If a patient does not have Medicare coverage, most private insurances cover hospice as well. For people who are not covered by either, the best option is to seek out a not-for-profit hospice who make it a rule to not refuse care based on a patient’s ability to pay. Essentially, not matter your situation, hospice will be paid for.
Patients in hospice lose their primary care doctor
This is one of the myths about hospice that couldn’t be further from the truth. Hospice services involve an entire team of professionals, including dedicated nurses, palliative care doctors, counselors, and a patient’s own primary care physician, who work together to provide comprehensive care at the end of life. Choosing hospice does not mean a patient will lose their doctor. Such a requirement would be unethical and cruel, the exact opposite of hospice’s mission.
Once in hospice, patients cannot leave
The reality is that hospice remains a choice. A patient may always decline hospice services if they so choose, and they may leave hospice at any time. The goal of hospice is to help those with life-limiting illness, but if that help is not wanted, it’s not required. Those patients who are in hospice and dissatisfied with the service provided to them may leave or refuse further services at any time. Because hospice is a choice, recent studies have looked into why many patients choose not to receive hospice care, and the demographic disparities that may be driving these decisions. But, this myth about hospice, that a patient cannot leave once in hospice, is just that: a myth.