Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a special kind of care for the terminally ill and their loved ones that:

  • Treats the patient as a whole—their body, their mind and their spirit.
    Provides care in the patient’s home—wherever that may be—or in one of our Hospice Homes.
  • Concentrates on keeping the patient as comfortable as possible in their final days, so they can focus less on their illness and more on the things that matter most.
  • Is there for both the patient and their loved ones.
  • Treats patients with a wide range of illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, lung disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Regardless of the patient’s condition or age, hospice is available to anyone who has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and a prognosis of 6 months or less.

What can Hospice Do?

Staff and volunteers can help patients in a variety of ways, including:

  • Pain and symptom relief.
  • Coordination of medical equipment.
  • Assisting with some household chores or errands.
  • Helping them put their final affairs in order.
  • Improve quality of life by allowing them to live life to the fullest, comfortably.
  • Just being there as a hand to hold, an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.

How did Hospice come about?

Although hospice is a relatively new health care option, introduced in the United States in the 1970s, the concept of hospice has been around for centuries.

Prior to advancements in medicine—which offer a multitude of treatments, tests and procedures to prolong life in the face of a terminal illness—death was accepted as a natural event in the family home.

Just as loved ones gathered around to welcome a new baby, families cared for the dying in the home, with a focus on dignity, respect and compassion.

And while terminal patients continue to take advantage of all that modern medicine has to offer, more and more are seeking compassion and dignity when facing the end-of-life journey.

In 2009, about one million patients chose hospice care. Hospice staff and volunteers help patients and their loved ones focus on what is most important to them at the end of life—sharing memories, saying goodbyes and remaining as comfortable and pain free as possible. Hospice provides these services in the patient’s home or in a home-like inpatient hospice facility.

Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the first modern hospice, summed up the hospice philosophy best when she told her patients: “You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but to help you live until you die.”

When should I plan for hospice?

Ideally, the time to learn about hospice is before a life-limiting illness occurs. This can greatly reduce stress later on. In addition, the earlier hospice is involved, the more comfortable the patient’s final days, weeks and months will be.

It’s best to make your views about end-of-life care known to your family before any illness strikes. Below are just a couple of steps you can take at any time, which may help your family make difficult decisions in the future.

Make a living will of written instructions to make known what you want done if, for example, you are seriously ill or injured and the only way you can be kept alive is by artificial means.

Create a durable power of attorney, which authorizes a person of your choosing, (for example, your spouse or a close relative) to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so.

When should a decision be made about hospice? Who should make it?

Understandably, most people are not comfortable talking about death and dying. Because of this, decisions about end-of-life care are often delayed. However, all health care options, including hospice, should be explored when diagnosed with a terminal illness. The patient makes the ultimate decision in choosing hospice care. Many feel more comfortable making their decision with the help of their family, clergy or physician. The hospice staff can help facilitate these conversations, and is available to answer any questions regarding hospice care.

Should I wait for my physician to make a referral to hospice?

Anyone can call Central Wyoming Hospice & Transitions to begin the process of receiving quality end-of-life care. Hospice patients can refer themselves or can be referred to our services by a loved one or caregiver. Hospice will work with your physician’s office to obtain the necessary documents for admission.

What does the admission process involve?

Hospice staff will contact the patient’s physician to make sure that the patient is appropriate for hospice care.

Patients are asked to sign a variety of forms, such as consent forms, notice of rights, privacy policies, etc. The staff member performing the admission will go over each form with the patient and their family to make sure that they fully understand the documents.

If I want to return to regular medical treatment, can I be discharged from hospice care?

Yes. A patient can be discharged from hospice care at any time they choose. If after discharge, a patient should later need to return to hospice care, that can also be arranged.

Will I have to make any changes in my home before Hospice begins?

As part of the initial assessment, the hospice staff will identify any equipment needs or safety concerns in your home. Medical equipment and delivery will be arranged by the hospice team. This equipment is usually covered as part of the hospice benefit.

Is home the only place Hospice care can be given?

No. In addition to your home, hospice care can be provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or in our inpatient hospice facilities.

How does Hospice manage pain?

Our staff specializes in pain and symptom relief, and keep up to date on the newest medications and devices available. There are also various options for delivering pain medications, such as patches or creams. The hospice team will work with you to decide what options are best.

Hospice also recognizes that pain isn’t always just physical, and attention is given to helping sooth emotional and spiritual pain. Our chaplain and our bereavement counselor are available to assist patients and family members with these issues.

Do the pain medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or from being aware of what’s happening?

Usually not. Our goal is always to help the patient be as comfortable and alert as they desire. This is done through constant consultation with the patient.

Does Hospice make death come sooner?

No. Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. The hospice staff is simply there to accompany patients and provide comfort throughout that dying process.

Is Hospice covered by insurance?

Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance policies cover hospice. Our business office will work with your insurance provider to determine what costs will be covered. We can also assist families in finding if the patient is eligible for any other coverage that they may not be aware of. Please know that you will not be denied care due to inability to pay.

What does medicare cover?

When a medicare-eligible patient receives services from a Medicare-approved hospice, Medicare pays the entire cost of Hospice care. In general, coverage includes:

  • Physician services.
  • Nursing care.
  • Social work services.
  • Medical supplies, as appropriate.
  • Short-term inpatient and respite care.
  • Home health aide services.
  • Physical and other therapies.
  • Grief and bereavement.
  • Drugs relating to the terminal diagnosis for symptom management and pain relief.

Does Hospice provide help to the family after the patient dies?

Our bereavement counselor will check in with a patient’s family for 13 months following a patient’s death. Individual bereavement counseling or group sessions are available to anyone in the community who has experienced the death of a loved one.

Your Help Would Make a Difference

Central Wyoming Hospice & Transitions (CWHTP) depends upon donations from individuals and businesses, as well as grants and fundraisers to offset the ever increasing gap between third party reimbursements and the actual costs of providing services.

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