The Basics: Hospice Care 101

The Basics: Hospice Care 101

“You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can , not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”

–Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the first modern hospice

The thought of arranging end of life care for your loved one can feel very overwhelming. In addition to all of the paperwork that needs to be deciphered, families also have to become educated on the options available and legalities involved in obtaining these services. We’ve answered some of those questions below in our first “The Basics” guide as your family begins down this new path.

What is hospice care?

Hospice care is a special kind of care that focuses on the quality of life for people and their caregivers who are experiencing an advanced, life-limiting illness. It is used when a disease, such as advanced cancer, gets to the point when treatment can no longer cure or control it. In general, hospice care should be used when a person is expected to live about 6 months or less if the illness runs its usual course. However, In 2018 over half (53.8%) of patients were enrolled in hospice for 30 or fewer days. 

Palliative care may also be called supportive care, symptom management, or comfort care. It can be given separately from hospice care, but It’s often a part of hospice care if the terminal illness is no longer being treated because it has worsened. Palliative care does not treat the illness itself. Instead, it’s used to prevent or treat symptoms and side effects as early as possible.

Although most hospice care is centered in the home, there might be times when you need to be in a hospital, extended-care facility, or an inpatient hospice center. Of patients receiving hospice care in 2013, 66% received care in their own home.  Your home hospice team can arrange for inpatient care and will stay involved in your care and with your family. You can go back to in-home care when you and your family are ready.

How does a person qualify for hospice care?

To qualify for hospice care, a hospice doctor and your doctor (if you have one) must certify that you’re terminally ill, meaning you have a life expectancy of 6 months or less. When you agree to hospice care, you’re agreeing to comfort care (palliative care) instead of care to cure your illness. While there is no set age to qualify for this care ​​in 2012, patients older than age 85 accounted for 40.5 percent of hospice admissions. However, patients aged 65-84 years made up an astonishing 44 percent.

What services are provided in hospice care?

 Hospice usually includes an interdisciplinary hospice team who is responsible for:

  • Managing the patient’s pain and other symptoms
  • Assisting the patient and family members with the emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of dying
  • Providing medications and medical equipment
  • Instructing the family on how to care for the patient
  • Providing grief support and counseling
  • Making short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time
  • Delivering special services like speech and physical therapy when needed
  • Providing grief support and counseling to surviving family and friends. 

What types of supplies and equipment is needed for hospice care

The top five diagnoses (cancer, debility unspecified, dementia, heart disease and lung disease) account for over 83 percent of patients. Considering these diagnoses, individuals may require respiratory equipment and supplies, hospital beds, ambulatory equipment such as wheelchairs or walkers, tools to measure vitals, and body positioning products. These items may be used in-home or within a hospice care facility. Other common items required for providing this type of care would be needles and syringes, feeding supplies, personal care items like shampoo basins and toileting/incontinence products. Furthermore, Legacy Medical Sales is available to provide you with a package of hospice products, customized to each patient’s individual needs.  

In summary, while you may not become an expert in hospice care just from reading our informative guide, we are ready to assist you with the basic information to provide the best end of life care possible.. Contact Legacy Medical Sales at for help with setting up your new in-home or facility delivery account or for questions about the products your family or facility will need.