What you need to know about Hospice care

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 28, 2019

Hospice is a specialty care service designed not only to support individuals faced with the challenges of a terminal illness, but also to support those caring, sharing, and supporting them during this season of life. Hospice is staffed by professionals who have dedicated their life to help patients and families live their lives as fully as possible when they are faced with an advanced terminal illness. One of the most frequent and saddest phrases hospice professionals hear from patients and/or their loved one is, “we wish we had known about you sooner.”

There are several things that are common for all hospice agencies.

All licensed and certified hospices must comply with State law and the Code of Federal Regulations governing hospice care: 42 CFR part 418. All hospices must provide the same core services, which are considered reasonable and necessary to improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients. These core services include:

  • Nursing Care
  • Social Services
  • Spiritual & Emotional Counseling
  • Hospice Aides
  • An Individualized Plan of Care
  • On-call Services (24/7)
  • Bereavement Counseling for Family (up to 12 or 13 months after patient’s death)
  • Medications, Supplies & Equipment (related to the terminal diagnosis)
  • Volunteers

All hospices file on and receive payment from their patient’s insurance; Medicare, Medicaid, and all private insurances which have a hospice benefit. All hospice patients must meet the hospice criteria as set forth by the Medicare established guidelines. All hospices provide care regardless of age, gender, race, color, national origin, disability, or ability to pay (all hospices provide care for indigent patients and patients that are underinsured).

When choosing a hospice provider, you will want to know if the nurses, hospice aides, chaplains, social workers, and medical directors are local professionals. Another important factor to consider is the proximity of the “on call” nurse to your residence and the area she/he covers while on call. Some hospice agencies may have nurses traveling from other locations to help cover their on call duties. The coverage area and residential location of your hospice team which will primarily consist of the nurse, the hospice aide, the chaplain, the social worker is essential in knowing how responsive they will be to your urgent needs.

Hospice care focuses on the patient and the family. The goal of the hospice team is to support and assist patients and families while empowering them to make their own decisions. The team also serves as patient advocates, helping to access information and resources families need during this very challenging time.


As stated by Caring Connections: “hospice is not about death; it is about the enhancement of life during the time a person has remaining. It is also about helping the family participate in the process of preparing for the end of a phase of life. It is about reassurance, honoring choices, acceptance, understanding, dignity, and respect.”


Remember, you have the right to choose the hospice that is best for you and your loved ones. You will want to consider what are the heart and intentions of the staff and management of the hospice agency. If you do not feel comfortable with a particular hospice, you can choose or change to the hospice you want to receive service from.


Comfort Care Hospice of Andalusia is an Alabama owned agency serving Covington County and surrounding rural communities. The staff at Comfort Care will be glad to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have concerning hospice care.


“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Mother Teresa


Vickie C. Wacaster

Hospice Consultant