Amazing Grace Hospice™ provides services that we all may need someday — if not for ourselves, for a loved one. While death is not an option for any of us, we do have choices about the services we use at the end of life. Hospice is undoubtedly the best option in the last months of life because it offers a whole variety of benefits, not only to those of us who are dying, but also to those we leave behind.

Are all hospice care providers the same?

No. Hospice providers have varying levels of care, services and options available. Amazing Grace Hospice™ believes that everyone has the right to make choices about their end of life journey and to have those choices honored. We are committed to serving each patient and family with integrity and respect. Our mission is to assist patients in managing life’s journey with dignity and compassion.

Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

Certainly. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from Amazing Grace Hospice and return to regular treatment and daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to Amazing Grace Hospice’s care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, Amazing Grace Hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

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

Amazing Grace Hospice provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. We also sponsor a monthly bereavement support group for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, friend, or similar loss. Please check with the hospice services agent you plan to use to learn more about these services.

Does someone need to be with each patient at all times?

In the early weeks of care, it’s usually not necessary for someone to be by the patient’s bedside at all times. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, Amazing Grace Hospice generally recommends someone be there continuously. While the family and friends do deliver most of the care, Amazing Grace Hospice has volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break for primary caregivers.

How does hospice "manage pain"?

Amazing Grace Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so we address each. Our registered nurses and doctors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain management and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists can assist patients to be as mobile and self sufficient as they wish, and they are sometimes joined by specialists schooled in music therapy, art therapy, massage and diet counseling. Finally, various counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.

How is a patient admitted to Amazing Grace Hospice™?

One of the first things Amazing Grace Hospice will do is contact the patient’s physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for the patient at that time. Once a physician submits an official referral, and the patient agrees to treatment, Amazing Grace Hospice can admit the patient for care. If the patient does not have a physician, Amazing Grace Hospice has a medical director that will develop and oversee the patient’s plan of care.

How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

There’s no set number. One of the first things Amazing Grace Hospice will do is to prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of care giving needed by the patient. Amazing Grace Hospice staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer medical questions.

How soon should I choose a hospice program and who should make the decision?

At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. By law the decision belongs to the patient. Most hospices accept patients who have a life-expectancy of six months or less and who are referred by their personal physician.

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

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.

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

The first thing Amazing Grace Hospice will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Barring this, some hospice providers, including Amazing Grace Hospice, will provide for anyone who cannot pay, using money raised from donations or from memorial or foundation gifts.

Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice care can be delivered?

Amazing Grace Hospice patients receive care in their personal residences, nursing homes, hospital hospice units and inpatient hospice centers.

Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?

No. While some churches and religious groups have started hospices (sometimes in connection with their hospitals), Amazing Grace Hospice serves our entire community and does not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.

Is hospice care covered by insurance?

Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in the state of Texas, and by most private insurance providers. To be sure of coverage families should of course check with their employer or health insurance provider.  For more information on Medicare & Medicaid please view the Medicare Hospice Benefits booklet.

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

Amazing Grace Hospice will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses. In general, Amazing Grace Hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, compassionate and safe as possible.

Should I wait until our physician brings up hospice as an option?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends.

What can we expect from the staff of Amazing Grace Hospice™

The interdisciplinary team of Amazing Grace Hospice is made up of very experienced health care professionals and volunteers. Each is highly skilled and specially trained to meet the needs of the terminally ill and their families.

The team is headed by our hospice Medical Director who, together with the patient, his/her family and primary physician, determine the patient’s eligibility for hospice. The Medical Director consults with the patient’s primary physician and the interdisciplinary team to develop the patient’s plan-of-care. With the help of the hospice team the Medical Director also monitors the patient’s condition and prescribes palliative medications as needed to ensure that the patient is comfortable.

Our Registered Nurses make regularly scheduled visits to the patient to provide expert pain management and symptom control. Our staff will educate the primary caregivers and patient so that care is provided properly and safely. The Registered Nurses also keep the primary physician and our Medical Director informed about the patient’s condition. Support from our Registered Nurses is available as needed anytime, day or night.

Social Workers provide assistance with practical and financial concerns as well as emotional support, counseling and bereavement follow-up. They evaluate the need for volunteers and other support services needed by the family and facilitate communication between the family and community agencies.

Chaplains provide non-denominational spiritual support to patients and families, often serving as a liaison between them and their religious community. They offer support services ranging from crisis help to private and group grief support. Chaplains also often assist with memorial services and funeral arrangements.

Our nursing staff provides personal care and assistance with the activities of daily living, feeding, bathing and hands-on care. They also perform limited household services to maintain a safe and sanitary environment in the areas of the home used by the patient.

Trained volunteers provide a number of important services. Volunteers offer direct patient support, companionship and practical, caring help. Volunteers can assist the primary caregivers by sitting with the patient to provide the caregivers respite from the sometimes overwhelming task of providing around the clock care for a loved one. Volunteers may also provide non-direct patient support by assisting the agency in its office and clerical work.

Finally, the most important thing you can expect from the Amazing Grace Hospice is a team that is committed to the philosophy of hospice patient care.

What is hospice's success rate in battling pain?

Very high. Using a combination of medications, counseling and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort they and their caregivers consider acceptable.

What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?

Amazing Grace Hospice patients are cared for by a team consisting of a physician, a nurse, social workers, counselors, hospice aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. Each one provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, Amazing Grace Hospice provides medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the terminal illness.

When is hospice appropriate?

Hospice care becomes an appropriate method of care when a patient has reached the last phase of a life-limiting illness or condition. The subject of hospice care can be addressed at any time as the physician and patient discuss treatment options.  When a patient chooses hospice, the decision is made to give up curative measures in favor of comfort care that focuses on pain management and symptom control, as well as emotional and psychosocial support for both patient and family.  Amazing Grace Hospice works with the patient, families and physicians to make this an informed, caring processed.

Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?

Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to have the patient as pain free and alert as possible. By constantly consulting with the patient, Amazing Grace Hospice has been very successful in reaching this goal.

Hospice Myths

Hospice is still a mystery to most Americans, 25 years after its introduction to this country.  Hospice remains a mystery partly because of our society’s resistance to discuss matters related to death.  We also have an issue in that the Federal Government doesn’t do a good job in educating the public about the Medicare hospice program instituted in 1983.  It is also fair to say that, as a whole, hospices have not been effective in raising the public awareness about hospice.

If we inform ourselves of the hospice concept, its comprehensive services and its financial aspects, we can more fully participate in the decisions that doctors and policymakers are making on our behalf. If we learn about hospice, we can work to preserve it for the time that we, or someone we love, may need it.

To expand awareness, it is important to address the common myths that in themselves create barriers to the benefits of hospice:

Myth #1: Hospice is a place.

Hospice care takes place wherever the need exists — usually the patient’s home. About 70 percent of hospice care takes place where the patient lives.

Myth #2: Hospice is only for people with cancer.

More than one-half of hospice patients nation-wide have diagnoses other than cancer. Amazing Grace Hospice serves families coping with the end-stages of chronic diseases, such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease); Alzheimer’s Dementia; heart, kidney, liver, and lung diseases; Multiple Sclerosis; Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke.

Myth #3: Hospice is only for old people.

Although many hospice patients are older, Amazing Grace Hospice serves patients of varying ages. Almost 20% of hospice patients are under 65 years of age.

Myth #4: Hospice is only for dying people.

As a family-centered concept of care, Amazing Grace Hospice focuses as much on the grieving family as on the dying patient.

Myth #5: Hospice can only help when family members are available to provide care.

Recognizing that terminally ill people may live alone, or with family members unable to provide care, Amazing Grace Hospice coordinates community resources to make home care possible. Or they help to find an alternative location where the patient can safely receive care.

Myth #6: Hospice is only for people who can accept death.

While those affected by life-limiting illnesses struggle to deal with this journey, Amazing Grace Hospice gently helps them find their way at their own speed. Amazing Grace Hospice welcomes inquiries from families who are unsure about their needs and preferences. The professional staff of Amazing Grace Hospice is readily available to discuss all options and to facilitate family decisions.

Myth #7: Hospice care is expensive.

Most people who use hospice are over 65 and are entitled to the Medicare Hospice Benefit. This benefit covers virtually all hospice services and requires little, if any, out-of-pocket costs. This means that there are no financial burdens incurred by the family, in sharp contrast to the huge financial expenses at the end of life which may be incurred when hospice is not used.

Myth #8: Hospice is not covered by managed care.

While managed care organizations (MCOs) are not required to include hospice coverage, Medicare beneficiaries can use their Medicare hospice benefit anytime, anywhere they choose. They are not locked into the end-of-life services offered or not offered by the MCOs. On the other hand, those under 65 are confined to the MCOs services, but most provide at least some coverage for hospice.

Myth #9: Hospice is for when there is no hope.

When death is in sight, there are two options: submit without hope or live life as fully as ever until the end. The gift of hospice is its capacity to help families see how much can be shared at the end of life through personal and spiritual connections often left behind. It is no wonder that many family members can look back upon their hospice experience with gratitude, and with the knowledge that everything possible was done towards a peaceful death. Amazing Grace Hospice™ is committed to serving each patient and family with integrity and respect. Our mission is to assist patients in managing life’s journey with dignity and compassion.

For much more information about these myths and hospice, please visit the American Hospice Foundation.