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What is hospice?

Hospice is a way to care for people who are terminally ill by focusing on pain relief and symptom management, as well as emotional and spiritual end-of-life needs, instead of trying to cure the disease.  Serenity is here to provide compassionate care for your loved one while improving their quality of life.

Who is on the hospice team?

Hospice patients receive services from an interdisciplinary team, meaning members come from different disciplines or fields. This may include a physician, registered nurse, hospice aide, social worker, chaplain, bereavement services manager, volunteer, and other healthcare professionals.

Does going on hospice mean giving up?

No. When treatment options for a disease have been exhausted or no longer work, hospice provides a way for people to live in comfort and peace without curative care. Accepting the services of Serenity Hospice Care does not mean you or your family is giving up hope. Our compassionate staff help give you hope while providing quality care allowing you or your loved one to live out those final months and days making memories together in the comfort of your own home.

Where do patients receive hospice services?

Hospice services are available wherever the patient calls home—a private residence, assisted living facility or nursing home. Patients can also receive hospice services while in the hospital or in an inpatient hospice unit.

Who pays for hospice?

Hospice is a benefit covered under Medicare, Medicaid, and also by most individual insurers. Hospice pays for medications, medical equipment, and supplies that are related to the life-threatening disease.

When is it time for hospice?

When the burden of treatment outweighs the benefits and/or the patient has had multiple hospitalizations over the last several months, he or she might be ready for hospice. Hospice services can begin when a doctor decides the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less. Other indications include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Frequent infections
  • Oxygen dependence
  • Repeat trips to the emergency department
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden or progressive decline in physical functioning and eating
  • Unrelieved pain
  • Weight loss
Is hospice care just for people with cancer?

Hospice care is end-of-life care for all people, not just those with cancer. In fact, most of our patients are non-cancer diagnoses. They may have Alzheimer’s, heart failure, kidney disease, lung disease, Parkinson’s, or any other life-limiting disease.

How can I manage to care for my loved one at home?

Hospice nurses and other team members provide care during their visits, and they will teach you what you need to know to provide care at home.

Who comes to visit us?

Hospice care is provided by a team. Each patient has a nurse case manager. You can decide if you would also like a hospice aide to give personal care, a spiritual care counselor to talk to, a social worker to assist with arranging practical and financial matters as well as offering emotional and psycho-social support, or a volunteer to keep the patient company, run errands, light housekeeping, and other various duties.

Can we see our own doctor?

Yes. Your primary care doctor remains your doctor under hospice care. Serenity works with your physician to facilitate comfort and direction about your care.

If I have home health, why do I need hospice care?

Hospice offers many services home health care does not, such as prescriptions, medical equipment, visits from an interdisciplinary healthcare staff, and 24/7 availability. Typically, the goal of home healthcare is to help the patient become more independent, and visits decrease in frequency as the patient’s condition improves. The goal of hospice is to keep the patient comfortable as symptoms increase.

Will someone come to stay with us?

Hospice does not usually provide shift care or 24-hour care. Team members make scheduled visits. But a nurse is available by telephone 24-hours a day and can come at any time if a visit is necessary.

Do I have to give up my medications?

No. Hospice will pay for your medications that are related to the terminal diagnosis. If there are medications that hospice does not cover, you can continue to get them and take them as you always have.

How will hospice manage pain if it occurs?

Hospice usually treats pain aggressively. We know that pain interferes with eating, sleeping, visiting, and general quality of life. Uncontrolled pain can also shorten life. The patient and family are always in control of their care and can decide how they want to treat pain.

Will my loved one be asleep all the time?

Not usually. Some diseases cause the patient to be less alert. If pain is severe, pain medicine may make a patient sleepier than usual for two or three days, then they will be as alert as the disease lets them be.

Does hospice do anything that will make my life shorter or longer?

Hospice does not do treatments to shorten or lengthen life. Hospice tries to improve the quality of life. Research shows that with the extra care from hospice people who go on hospice usually live longer than those who do not.

My loved one lives in a nursing home. What can hospice do that they can’t?

Nursing homes focus on routine daily care and rehabilitation. Residents who receive hospice services get additional customized support determined by their plan of care, which focuses on the physical, emotional, and spiritual end-of-life needs of patients and their families.

What if care for my loved one at home becomes too much for me?

If you feel you can’t care for the patient at home, the hospice social worker can help you find a skilled nursing facility or residential care facility.

Can we go to the hospital?

Yes, you can always go to the hospital. We ask that you call hospice first. We may be able to manage your crisis at home. If not, they can arrange transportation to the hospital. There are times that the hospice may ask the patient to go to the hospital for a short stay if there is a problem that can be managed better there.

Who decides whether we get hospice?

You do. Your doctor authorizes care, but you decide if you want the care or not. Sometimes the doctor calls hospice and asks us to contact you about hospice. Some families call hospice and have us call the doctor to ask for authorization. Serenity will send someone to make an informational visit so you can learn more about how you can benefit from hospice.

What happens if my loved one is still alive at the end of six months?

Hospice must periodically recertify that the patient has a prognosis of six months or less. If at each of these dates it appears that the patient has six months or less to live, then the patient can stay on hospice. If the course of the disease is slow, some people may have hospice care longer than six months.

Can we stop hospice care?

Yes, any patient can go off hospice at any time. You can also come back on hospice if circumstances change.

What does hospice do for us after my loved one dies?

A large part of hospice care is bereavement support for families and friends for at least 13 months after your loved ones passing. Serenity provides visits, phone calls, newsletters, workshops, counseling, support groups, and remembrance events for families after a death.

Thank you so much for the great care all of you gave to my husband. We really appreciate your kindness. It is so nice to have caring people like you.

- Wife of Peachtree City patient

We hold more appreciation for Serenity than words can say. You are among the nicest people we have ever known. Serenity will never be forgotten for the care that was given to our father. Thanks to all of you for everything.

- Family of Milledgeville patient

Dear wonderful people of Serenity Hospice Care, we can't thank you enough for your kindness and support during the last months of mother's life. You provided so much comfort as you guided us through some difficult times. As a result, mother died with much dignity. Thank you for the amazing care and service that you provide.

- Laura, Daughter of Milledgeville patient

I had to write a note to express the gratitude our entire family feels. The past few weeks have been very difficult, but the compassion and professional expertise of your staff has been a comfort. Everyone involved with the care of our loved one is appreciated. God bless you all!

- Family of Vidalia patient

You all showed my mother great honor and care in the last months of her life. Mom struggled to understand all the changes that were happening in her body. But the knowledge, concern, and care from Serenity's staff kept her comfortable. Thank you for all the encouragement and help.

- Sarah, Daughter of Milledgeville patient

Thanks to each of you who came to our home and helped James. We miss you. May God bless each one of you.

- Family of Vidalia patient

Our family would like to thank the Serenity staff for your care and concern of our loved one. We appreciate the kindness shown to our family during this difficult time.

- Family of Vidalia patient

Serenity was loving and faithful to us. We were able to keep Papa at home and gently let him go to heaven. We couldn't have done that without Serenity. You treated Papa and us with love, respect, and dignity. Our family is blessed because we have experienced Serenity.

- Family of Milledgeville patient

We sincerely appreciate all the help and comfort you gave to our mother and to us during the time of our loss.

- Family of Vidalia patient

Our family greatly appreciates your kind expression of sympathy in our great loss. Your thoughts and efforts were greatly appreciated. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

- Family of Warner Robins patient

The dish garden you sent was a lovely expression of sympathy for K. and our family. Indeed, the love and support of friends like you has helped us through this difficult time. Thank you!

- Family of Columbus patient

Thank you so much for the care all of you gave mama in her last days. Each one of you made her smile. Bless each of you. You are all truly angels here on earth!

- Love, L.

Thanks so much to the Serenity team for the wonderful care given to my father during his time in passing and how sweetly your staff treated my mother.  All questions were answered, and all needs were taken care of. Serenity is truly the gold standard in hospice care.

- Family of Peachtree City patient

I look forward to Serenity coming to see me four times a week. They make me feel comfortable and loved. They feel like family. I couldn’t imagine a day left in this lifetime where I didn’t have Serenity walking beside me. I thank you all so very much for being here for me. God bless you all.

- Family of Dublin patient