Hospice and Palliative Care Specialist Questions Hospice Care

How long are patients usually in hospice care?

My father is nearing the point of not being able to go on anymore. But he doesn't want to go to hospice. How long are patients usually in hospice care?

2 Answers

I'm sorry you and your father are going through this terrible time. Since I am not a medical doctor, this question is also outside of my scope as a therapist. However, from a personal perspective, I can tell you my experience. To be on hospice, a person must have an illness in which the doctor believes the person will only last 6 months. My husband was in hospice for 16 months. Every person is different depending on their illness and their spiritual and psychological desire/ability to fight. Hospice care can be very helpful too in regards to having people help with care and comfort. A person could also consider palliative care which isn't as high a level of care as hospice. The biggest issue with my husband (and I think anyone) is where they are getting care and who they have around them. Don't let the word "hospice" be a scary one. Blessings to you and hang in there.
Per CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services):
"An individual is considered to be terminally ill if the medical prognosis is that the individual’s life expectancy is 6 months or less if the illness runs its normal course."
"Predicting of life expectancy is not always exact. The fact that a beneficiary lives longer than expected in itself is not cause to terminate benefits."

Other insurances usually follow CMS guidelines for determining eligibility for hospice. There is no finite limitation to duration of hospice services. In the beginning, 2 physicians and, after enrolling to hospice, 1 physician needs to certify for the eligibility of hospice services on regular bases. There are guidelines and clinical criteria to determine eligibility. They are reviewed in relation to patients health condition/decline with the help of an interdisciplinary team. If the patient continues to meet the criteria, they would continue to receive hospice services. If the patient's health does get better than originally anticipated, they are discharged (or graduated) out of hospice.
Hope this is helpful.