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The Truth About Hospice: 10 Common Myths Explained

At Big Bend Hospice, we often hear patients and families say they wish they would have called Hospice sooner. Several common myths often prevent people from accessing Hospice care. These patients and families sadly go without excellent medical care and compassionate support that can ease the challenges of coping with a serious illness. The goal of Hospice is for every patient and family to enjoy life to the fullest extent possible. That’s why it’s so important to know the facts. Here are 10 common myths about Hospice explained:

MYTH: Hospice is for patients who only have days to live.
TRUTH: Hospice is available after a physician has determined that life expectancy is six months or less. The earlier a patient or family member calls, the more access they have to a dedicated Hospice Care Team that includes physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, music therapists, art therapists, grief counselors, spiritual care counselors and volunteers. Hospice patients can even continue to work, attend school or take vacations as their health permits. There’s so much Hospice can do before the final days.

MYTH: Hospice means the patient or family is no longer in control.
TRUTH: The Hospice Care Team provides expertise and presents options, but patients and families make decisions. Care plans support patients’ unique physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Patients are also free to leave Hospice and return to active treatment.

MYTH: Hospice means we’re giving up hope.
TRUTH: The gift of Hospice is helping families discover all the ways in which hope still exists. Hospice helps patients and families live as comfortably as possible by managing pain and by providing compassionate care. We support patients and families as they define what gives life hope and meaning.

MYTH: Hospice is a place.
TRUTH: Patients receive care wherever they live – in their own home, in a nursing home or in an assisted living facility. Big Bend Hospice also has the Margaret Z. Dozier Hospice House, the only in-patient Hospice center in the Big Bend.

MYTH:  Patients become addicted to pain medication or sleep all the time.
TRUTH: Big Bend Hospice has the expertise to manage pain so that patients are comfortable, yet alert, and able to enjoy each day as much as possible. Patients and families make decisions about pain management.

MYTH: Hospice care will speed up death.
TRUTH: An extensive body of research shows that Hospice does not hasten death. In fact, with pain and symptom management, some patients live longer and experience better quality of life. We also have some patients who stabilize and are discharged from Hospice.

MYTH: I can’t afford Hospice.
TRUTH: Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans cover Hospice care. Big Bend Hospice has a sliding fee scale for uninsured patients, but no one is turned away for inability to pay.

MYTH: All Hospices are the same.
TRUTH: Quality of care and the programs offered can vary greatly among hospices. Thanks to generous community support, Big Bend Hospice offers a wide range of services. In addition to excellent medical care, these include music therapy and art therapy, the Special Patient Needs Fund, which assists Hospice families in financial crisis; grief support for children and adults, spiritual care, end-of-life planning and support for Veterans and caregivers.

MYTH: A patient must give up his or her primary or family physician.
TRUTH: Your primary physician can continue to be involved in your care and is welcome as a part of the Hospice Care Team.

MYTH: Only a physician can refer a patient to Big Bend Hospice.
TRUTH: Anyone can contact Big Bend Hospice to request services. Call the referral office at 850-878-5310 or 800-772-5862. You can also complete the “Is Hospice Right for Me?” form at bigbendhospice.org, and a certified clinician will assist you.

Big Bend Hospice inspires hope by positively impacting the way our community experiences serious illness or grief — one family at a time. We offer compassionate end-of-life care and emotional support to patients and families in Leon, Jefferson, Taylor, Madison, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin and Wakulla counties.  Please call 850-878-5310 or visit www.bigbendhospice.org for more information.