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Welcome to House of Light, a blog produced and managed by the staff of Casa de la Luz Hospice. Casa de la Luz ("house of light" in Spanish) is a locally owned and operated hospice, serving the city and surrounding communities of Tucson, Arizona. Through this blog, we hope to offer education, information, and support about caregiving and hospice care to terminally ill patients and their loved ones. For more information, visit the contact us page.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What to Expect During a Hospice Evaluation

Perhaps your loved one has stopped responding to curative treatments. Or maybe you've noticed a decline in his or her health. You have a basic understanding of hospice care, and you and your loved one have made the decision to learn more about the extra support hospice providers offer during this phase of life.

Here's what you can expect when you call the hospice to set up an evaluation for your loved one.

When you call the hospice to set up a meeting, they will ask for the patient's full name, the patient's address, and they may request contact information for the patient's medical power of attorney. The hospice may also request the patient's Medicare or Social Security number and the name of his/her physician. They will want to know where patient is currently, whether they are at home, in a facility, or in the hospital. Then, the hospice will set an appointment for a representative to meet with the patient and family or MPOA.

The hospice representative will meet with you and your loved one, at home, in the hospital, or at an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. He/she will ask for information about the patient's diagnosis, symptoms or discomfort the patient is experiencing, current medications, and a brief health history. This information is used to determine if the patient is eligible for hospice.

Casa de la Luz uses Medicare Hospice Benefit guidelines to determine patient eligibility. In order to qualify for hospice services, two physicians must certify that an individual is terminally ill with six months or less to live, if the illness runs its normal course.

The representative will also explain hospice services and answer any questions you might have. If the patient and family choose to sign up with hospice, the representative will walk you through signing the hospice election forms. There is no cost for this meeting, and no obligation to sign up with services at the end of the meeting.

Individuals can also choose to end, or revoke, hospice services at any time by signing a revocation form. After revocation, individuals can re-elect the hospice benefit again, assuming they meet the criteria for eligibility. Also, it is not uncommon for a patient's health to improve while on hospice, and then he/she should be discharged off of hospice services.

The end of life is a sensitive, emotional time. You want to choose a hospice provider who can respect and support yours and your loved one's needs. The goal is to offer your loved one comfort, peace, and dignity in the last months of life. To learn more about hospice care, contact your physician for a referral, or visit the Caring Connections website to locate a provider in your area.

By Carrie Bui, Communications Specialist

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