Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is the difference between Home Health and Hospice?

A:  Home health focuses on rehabilitation and curative care. The patient must be home-bound and a need for skilled care. Hospice care focuses on comfort from pain rather than cure. A hospice patient has been diagnosed with a life limited illness with a prognosis of six months or less. Hospice patients choose to let nature take its course. They focus on medications and therapies that will allow them to comfortably engage in the activities they enjoy for as long as possible. 

Q: When should patients and families consider hospice?

A:  After a diagnosis of life-limiting illness, patients and their families should consider their choices for care. A patient does not have to be bed-bound or critically ill to be admitted to hospice. A South Valley Hospice representative would be happy to talk with you or your family about the hospice option. 

Q: Who is eligible for hospice care?

A:  A physician must certify that a hospice patient has an illness and an estimated life expectancy of six months or less if the illness runs its usual course. The patient must agree to hospice care. 

Q: How does hospice care begin?

A:  Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor.  A South Valley Hospice representative will visit the patient within 24 hours of that referral, providing the visit meets the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver.  Usually, hospice care is ready to begin within a day or two of the referral.  

Q: What happens if the patient lives longer than six months? Will they be discharged?

A:  No.  Hospice patients are certified by the doctor for periods of care.  Once a period of care ends, the doctor can re-certify the individual for further hospice care if they are still eligible.  For example, under Medicare, a patient can be certified for two ninety-day periods, followed by an unlimited number of sixty-day periods.  As long as the doctor certifies that the person needs hospice care, he or she will continue to receive it. 

Q: Does hospice provide care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

A:  South Valley Hospice staff is on call for emergencies 24 hours a day. Hospice care does not include a nurse in the home 24/7. 

Q: How often do the nurses come to the home?

A: The frequency of a nurse’s visit depends on the acuity of the patient’s condition.


Q: Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?

A:  South Valley Hospice will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. We will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, clean and safe as possible. 

Q: What is respite in hospice

A:  For patients living at home, respite allows family caregivers to take a break from their care-giving responsibilities. 

Q: Is hospice covered by insurance

A:  Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in 47 states, and by most private insurance providers. 

Q: If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be any additional expenses to be paid?

A:  The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services for a life-limiting illness. Hospice care also supports the family and loved ones of the person through a variety of services. This benefit covers almost all aspects of hospice care with little expense to the patient or family. 

Q: If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?

A:  The first thing hospice will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. 

Q: What happens when a patient dies?

A:  The South Valley Hospice team will come when the patient dies and will handle the notification of family members, the patient’s physician, the funeral home and any local authorities that must be contacted.  There is no need to contact emergency medical services, the police or any other service.  We will be there to take care of these things as needed. 

Q: Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?

A:  South Valley Hospice provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Many hospices also sponsor bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses. 

Q: Can I get assistance with planning funeral arrangements?

A:  Our social worker can help you with any needs for the funeral arrangement. They are there to help the patient make any final wishes that they may have and help the family organize what is necessary.