The Crosswalk

A resource for navigating serious illness and end-of-life care decisions

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“To care for those who care for us is one of the highest honors.” - Tia Walker

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Hospice Care

Hospice is specialized medical care for people with a serious illness, prioritizing comfort for individuals with a life expectancy of 6 months or less. The hospice team consists of professionals focused on symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, and quality of life for the patient and their loved ones. Hospice care can be provided wherever the patient lives including private residences, adult care homes, and skilled nursing facilities.

The interdisciplinary team of hospice professionals includes:

  • Hospice physician or medical director
  • Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Chaplains or Spiritual Counselors
  • Hospice Aides
  • Trained Volunteers
  • And if necessary, speech, physical, or occupational therapists
  • The patient’s primary doctor may choose to follow the patient on to hospice and would then be included on the team

Questions about Hospice care

What can Hospice care help with?

In addition to symptom management, social services, and spiritual support, hospice also provides medications, medical supplies and equipment, caregiving education for the family caregivers, short-term inpatient care when symptoms cannot be managed at home or for respite care, and grief support for loved ones.

How can hospice meet our individual needs?

A plan of care is developed by the hospice interdisciplinary team to address the care needs of the patient and family. The frequency of visits will be adjusted based on the changing needs, with increased visits when the patient is nearing end-of-life. Hospices are required to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All hospices must have nurses to respond to needs after regular business hours, on the weekends, and on holidays. When interviewing potential hospice agencies, you may want to ask if they have social workers and chaplains on-call for support 24/7.
For more questions to consider when speaking with potential providers, please download our "Additional Questions You May Want to Ask Your Potential Hospice Provider" (PDF)

How long can a patient stay on hospice service?

When a person meets eligibility requirements and elects hospice care, their length of stay on hospice is broken into “benefit periods”. The first two benefit periods are for 90 days each, followed by 60-day benefit periods. The hospice physician evaluates the patient for eligibility throughout the benefit periods and will re-certify the patient for hospice if the person continues to meet hospice criteria. Hospice care is not limited to 6 months and a person can stay on hospice care for an unlimited number of benefit periods.

However, if a patient’s condition stabilizes or improves over time, the hospice may determine that the patient no longer meets eligibility criteria, and the patient will be discharged from service. If the patient questions this determination, they may appeal this decision. The hospice agency will file an appeal of discharge.

A person may choose to unenroll from hospice service at any time and for any reason including a decision to pursue curative treatment or to explore different medication or treatment options.  

How is Hospice Paid for?

Hospice is most often paid through the Medicare Hospice Benefit. It may also be covered by a Medicare Advantage Plan, through a state Medicaid program, and by private insurance. Hospice coverage through state Medicaid plans and private insurance varies, so it is good to ask about the specific benefits you are entitled to.
For people who do not have health insurance, hospice agencies may offer services at no cost or at a reduced rate depending on what an individual can afford.

What other services might be available to me?

Many hospices provide additional support services including:

  • Music Therapy
  • Pet Therapy
  • We Honor Veterans

Ask your hospice provider about what supplemental services they offer. 

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hospice care organizations in southeastern arizona

We have encouraged hospice care agencies supporting end-of-life to submit their information for inclusion in our listings. We are building a comprehensive location for those in need to find support. 

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