Questions you might have about hospice care

Starting the conversation about hospice can feel difficult, but seeking answers to the support hospice offers can provide peace of mind, clarity, and comfort in your decision-making process. Hospice is about living every day with compassion and dignity, on your terms.

Where can I get hospice care?

Hospice is not a place. Wherever you call home, we will come to you. We provide visits in facilities, homes, RVs, or wherever you feel comfortable getting care. We serve patients in Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Snohomish counties.

Are all hospices created equal?

We are a Medicare-certified hospice. That means we are fully accredited by an objective third party called Community Health Accreditation Partners (CHAP). CHAP holds us to a nationally held quality standard. Consistently maintaining high safety and quality metrics are top priorities for Hospice of the Northwest, ensuring our patients receive the best care possible.

Hospice organizations can offer different levels of care, or different philosophies of care. At Hospice of the Northwest, we use a holistic care philosophy that cares for the patient and their family. With a dedicated care team of physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, hospice care aides, integrative therapists, volunteers, and more, we provide patients with the resources and support they need to live their lives more comfortably. Each member of our team is passionate about helping others. Our patients are more than numbers. We care deeply for each patient and strive to provide the best care possible.

Does my doctor have to refer me to hospice care?

Anyone can refer someone to hospice care services, including the patient themselves. It’s never too early to start the conversation. We often hear from those who have received hospice support that they wish they had started sooner. Call our Referral Center at 360-814-5550 to learn more about how to get started with hospice care.

Is hospice care available 24/7?

Hospice of the Northwest staff are available around the clock via by phone at 360-814-5550 for consultations and questions. Whether you need support at 2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., we are available by phone to help. Clinicians schedule regular visits with patients and loved ones based on the patient’s schedule and the plan of care. It is important to note that we do not provide caregiving services, and our clinicians are not physically with our patients 24/7.

How much does hospice care cost?

For those with Medicare Part A coverage, the Hospice Benefit is covered at 100%.
In addition to Medicare, Medicaid (state insurance), VA, or Commercial (private or employer-provided insurance) also offer coverage for hospice care. Learn more about how to pay for hospice.

For those with commercial or private insurance, coverage can vary from company to company. However, since opening in 1989, Hospice of the Northwest has never turned a patient away for the inability to pay. We are supported by the Hospice of the Northwest Foundation and a network of generous community donors.

If financial challenges are a concern, please call our office at 360-814-5550 for more information. We are here to help.

When can hospice start?

We suggest starting the hospice conversation with your provider when you receive a terminal diagnosis. Let your provider know you would like to explore hospice support when treatments are no longer working or when your treatments are causing more unmanageable symptoms than positive treatment outcomes. To be eligible for hospice, two providers need to agree there is a possibility or likelihood that you might not be here in six months.

Can I change my mind about hospice care once I start?

Hospice care does not come with a long-term commitment. You are able to end hospice services at any time, which can happen if patients would like to pursue a curative treatment or if their symptoms improve to the point that their diagnosis is no longer considered a six-month terminal illness. The Medicare hospice benefit is not a “use it and lose it” benefit. If you meet the medical criteria for hospice, you are always welcome to return to Hospice of the Northwest to receive support again.

Does hospice care mean we are giving up?

We provide patients with a dedicated care team who works with each individual and their loved ones to create a holistic care plan focused on their specific goals and needs. Our goal is to improve your quality of life in whatever ways are most important for you. When symptoms are well managed and the patient is more comfortable, patients can live longer than expected.

In fact, research a 2007 study from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) revealed that many patients who utilize hospice live longer than those who don’t choose hospice support.

Is hospice reliant on narcotics and other medications?

We take a holistic approach to caring for the whole person. Each patient has a dedicated care team made up of a Registered Nurse, Social Worker, and Spiritual Counselor. This team of experts works together with the patient to create an individualized care plan focused on the patient’s specific needs and goals. If your goals include minimal medications, your team will work with you to support that as much as possible.

The Hospice of the Northwest team includes several service providers offering non-medication based treatments. These services, called Integrative Therapies include massage therapy (with licensed therapists), clinical musicians, aromatherapy, energy work, and more.

Is hospice care just for the patient?

The dedicated care team is focused on supporting each patient’s individualized care plan, along with meeting their specific needs and goals. Family members, loved ones, and the circle of support are an important part of the patient’s care plan. Your hospice team works to support your loved ones mentally and emotionally, as well as provide resources to help them navigate a complex healthcare system during an extremely difficult time.

Hospice of the Northwest offers education, grief and loss support, and other strategies designed to support the family unit as a whole throughout the journey.

“More often than not, when I talk with families who are coming on service, they say, ‘I wish we would have called sooner’ or ‘I didn’t know hospice provided so much support.’ You can hear their voice relax, because they know that help is coming.”

–Käaren Flint, Community Outreach and Education Specialist

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