Frequently Asked Questions

Q:   When should a decision about entering a Hospice program be made and who should make it?

A:   When the patient, their loved ones and the physician agree that curative/aggressive medical treatment is no longer medically meaningful.

Q:   Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of Hospice, or should I raise it first?

A:   If you have ever thought about hospice as an option, discuss it with your physician. Contact The Hospice of Baton Rouge with any questions.

Q:   What is the criteria for becoming a Hospice patient?

A:   The patient has a life-limiting illness that is expected to take his/her life within 6 months or less. The patient’s attending physician supervises the medical treatment. The patient has a primary caregiver who accepts the responsibility of providing care of the dying person. The patient lives within the agency’s area of service. The family/patient wants hospice care.

Q:   Is Hospice a place?

A:   The Hospice of Baton Rouge provides care in the patient’s own home or in a home like setting. Although there are no residential facilities in this area, we do have contracts with many nursing homes.

Q:   Must someone be with the patient at all times?

A:   When the Hospice team decides it is no longer safe for the patient to be alone, then a full time caregiver is necessary. Family, friends, and/or sitters are relied on as caregivers. The Hospice of Baton Rouge does provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide time away for the major caregivers.

Q:   How difficult is caring for a dying loved one at home?

A:   Most of our caregivers find that staying home is far less stressful than being in the hospital. Knowing that the hospice nurses are available on an emergency call basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a great comfort. Much of what we do involves preparing the patient and the family for the changes that may occur. Knowing how to care for your loved one helps reduce much of the stress. The Hospice of Baton Rouge helps to get all the supplies, equipment and medication that you will need to make your situation more comfortable. Trained volunteers are also part of the Hospice program.

Q:   What specific assistance does Hospice provide home-based patients?

A:   The Hospice of Baton Rouge provides the support services necessary to enable patients and their loved ones to face the final stages of life with dignity. Services are provided by Registered Nurses, Licensed Social Workers, Home Health Aides, Chaplains and Volunteers.

Q:   Does Hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

A:   Hospice affirms life and views death as a natural process. Hospice exists to support and care for persons in their last stages of incurable illness, helping them live as fully and comfortably as possible and enabling them to have a peaceful death within the home environment. Offering appropriate care and support to fulfill individual and family needs, hospice will neither hasten nor postpone death but will help the patient and family reach a degree of preparation for death that is acceptable to them.

Q:   Is caring for the patient at home the only place Hospice care can be delivered?

A:   Most of our care is provided in the patient’s home. We also provide care in some nursing homes and in local care centers.

Q:   How does Hospice manage pain?

A:   Hospice nurses and doctors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. All pain medications must be ordered by the attending physician. Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so Hospice addresses each.

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

A:   Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to allow the patient to be pain free but alert. By constantly consulting with the patient, The Hospice of Baton Rouge has been very successful in reaching this goal.

Q:   What if a patient has uncontrollable symptoms like intractable pain?

A:   The Hospice of Baton Rouge opened the first hospice inpatient unit in this region in 2005. The staff at The Butterfly Wing® specializes in pain and symptom control. It is a short-term stay facility with patients staying about 5 days. Registered nurses are on site 24/7. The unit is under the supervision of one of our Medical Directors.

Q:   Is Hospice care covered by insurance?

A:   Many insurance companies now have some hospice coverage. The Hospice of Baton Rouge has contracts with most managed care providers in this community. We will be happy to discuss Hospice coverage with your insurance company.

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

A:   The Hospice of Baton Rouge’s Patient Care Fund, supported by donations, contributions, and memorials provides care to patients who have no insurance or limited insurance. Individuals without insurance or a reimbursement source may apply for Financial Assistance through The Hospice Foundation of Greater Baton Rouge. No one has ever been denied care based on the inability to pay. Services are provided on a sliding fee schedule. If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact our Social Services Department.

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

A:   Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for at least 13 months following the death of the loved one. Our bereavement support groups meet on a regular basis. The groups are open to anyone and offer support on the difficulties of loss and grief. Please contact our office for dates and times.

Q:   Does Hospice mean you can’t go to the hospital?

A:   The Hospice care plan is an individualized plan based on the individual patient’s needs. The goal is to enable the patient to remain at home or in a home-like setting. If the patient/family wants to return to the hospital, the hospice team should be contacted immediately. The Hospice of Baton Rouge will work with the patient/family to determine the best place for the patient which might include a brief stay at our inpatient unit. The patient can return to the hospital but must consult with the hospice care team before going to a hospital.