WHAT IS HOSPICE?
A caring, compassionate, supportive way to care for people living with a life-limiting illness. A combination of a healthcare program and services designed to meet the special needs of patients and their loved ones. Hospice specializes in addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering of patients and families who have chosen to forego curative treatment. We provide progressive comfort care.
Our staff consists of the attending physician, hospice medical director, registered nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, home health aides and trained volunteers. We are prepared to address the patients needs on medical, functional, emotional and spiritual levels.
Hospice Eligibility Quick Reference
Hospice Appropriate Signs & Symptoms May Include, But Are Not Limited To:
- Solid Neoplasms – Cancer
- Alzheimer’s and other dementias, Parkinson’s
- ALS – Amyothephic Lateral Sclerosis
- MS – Multiple Sclerosis
- Anoxic Brain Damage
- End Stages of :
- Heart Failure
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Renal Failure
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Emphysema; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Acute Hepatic Failure; Cirrhosis
- Stroke; Multiple Sclerosis; ALS; Anoxic Brain Damage
- Liver Disease
- Other End-stage Diagnoses
Welcome to Santa Maria Hospice
Our staff is focused on the individual as well as their family’s needs to achieve maximum comfort, quality and dignity towards end of life.
We’re committed to our patients and their families.
Hospice care can dramatically reduce the amount of pain and suffering experienced by a patient and their loved ones. At Santa Maria Hospice, our close-knit group of caring professionals and trained volunteers are committed to providing our patients with a richer, fuller and more meaningful life in the time that is left to ensure a dignified, comfortable and peaceful experience.
Myths & Misconceptions
Does Hospice equal giving up?
Incorrect: Beginning hospice care shifts the focus of treatment from aggressive medical curative measures to medical comfort measures. We shift the focus to our patient that has a disease rather than to the disease of our patient. Hospice neither speeds up nor slows down the dying process, but accepts death as a natural and inevitable process. Time and time again, studies demonstrate when pain and symptoms of a disease are controlled and medical, social and family support is provided, patients often have an improved quality and extended life.
Hospice is only for the last few days of your life?
Incorrect: So often our patients and families ask, “Why didn’t we begin hospice sooner?” More often than not, the reason is because of these Myths and Misconceptions surrounding hospice. Or they simply were not aware of how soon they could begin benefiting from hospices’ full range of services. Many of our patients spend weeks and even months on hospice. Because of our expert pain and symptom management, as well as, our spiritual and emotional support, many of our patients and families experience less stress, less pain and more quality time spent with their loved ones.
Hospice focuses on dying:
Incorrect: Our Hospice care is to provide the best quality of life during the final stages of an illness. We focus on pain and symptom management in order to keep our patients as pain free, lucid and comfortable as possible. Our focus is not about dying, it is about attending to the needs of the living. We serve to support quality of life to our patients, their families and caregivers by helping adjust to and cope with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges of a life threatening illness.
Hospice medications decrease your life expectancy.
Incorrect: The hospice philosophy is to neither prolong life nor hasten death, but to provide medications and other treatments that will keep our patients as comfortable as possible.
On Hospice food and water is withheld.
Incorrect: When our patient begins to eat and drink less than usual, it sometimes causes family members, loved ones and caregivers to become concerned about their loved one’s comfort. A decrease in appetite is a natural progression of the dying process. It is not painful. It is not uncomfortable. It is necessary in order for the process to begin. We take special care to consult and educate family members, loved ones and caregivers during this time. Our patients are always in control of their own food and water intake.
Hospice is only for cancer patients.
Incorrect: Santa Maria Hospice cares for any patient with an incurable illness that has been given a prognosis of six months or less to live by their physician. Our hospice patients have a variety of diagnoses, ranging from cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease to AIDS, COPD, and end-stage heart, liver, pulmonary and or renal disease.
Once you start Hospice, you can’t get off it.
Incorrect: At any time, our patients may chose to resume aggressive medical measures and or leave hospice care services altogether. You can do so by signing a “revocation form” which returns their medical coverage to the previous pre-hospice state.
Also, if our patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, then we may “Graduate” our patient. We evaluate our patients on an ongoing basis to ensure they continue to meet the criteria for receiving hospice care.
If you go off hospice you lose your hospice benefit altogether.
Incorrect: If our patient should later want to return to hospice care and continue to meet the criteria, then, Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances will allow hospice care to resume.
Once you sign up with a Hospice, you’re stuck with that Hospice even if you don’t like the care you’re receiving.
Incorrect: You are entitled to discharge a Hospice Agency at any time and may begin service with another agency immediately after discharge.
You can’t keep your personal physician once you begin hospice care.
Incorrect: Our patients may keep their attending physician while on our hospice services. Although we have a Hospice and Palliative Care Board Certified Medical Director, we most definitely can and will work with your attending physician.
Hospice work must be so sad.
Incorrect: While hospice service can be sad at times, we receive far more from our patients, their families and caregivers than we can ever give. It is not work at all. It is our calling, our duty. We are honored and privileged to be able to serve those who are in need. Fulfillment comes from helping our patient and their loved ones through the dying experience.
Hospice Care ends once our patient dies.
Incorrect: Santa Maria Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family, friends and caregivers for at least 13 months following the loss of a loved one.
At Santa Maria Hospice, we believe that planning is crucial to having a better end of life experience. Thinking about death is not pleasant. This has a lot to do with why most people do not take planning into consideration until it is too late. You can save your loved ones a great deal of stress, heartache and possible financial troubles by getting your advance directives in order. Anyone from the age of 18 and over can plan their Advance Directives. The sooner, the better! Learn More