Nearly all patients are able to receive hospice care as soon as their physician believes that they most likely have six months or less to live, due to a terminal prognosis.

Hospice is not a crisis service for just the last few days of life. It is a program designed to care for the patient and family during the last months of life. An earlier hospice admission allows both patient and family to receive the full benefit of hospice services. Additionally, when pain and other symptoms are effectively controlled, people not only feel better, they have the potential to live longer.

According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, “The Commission has previously expressed concern about very short hospice stays. More than one-quarter of hospice decedents enroll in hospice services only in the last week of life, a length of stay which is commonly thought to be of less benefit to patients than enrolling somewhat earlier.” (MEDPAC Report, March 2016, Chap. 11)

The benefits of choosing hospice earlier in the disease progression include:

For the Patient

Effective medication, pain, and symptom management resulting in less discomfort and fewer emergency hospitalizations;

For the Patient and Family

For the Family

Earlier admission to hospice allows patients and families to build longer relationships and improve overall care for the body, mind and spirit. In our satisfaction surveys, 60% of patients and caregivers said they would have liked to have been referred to hospice earlier.