Frequently Asked Questions
Is hospice for cancer patients only?
No. Hospice is for anyone - young or old - with an expected prognosis of six months or less to live. Coastal Hospice patients are diagnosed with heart disease, Parkinsons, ALS, Alzheimers, and kidney failure as well as cancer, or with any illness that is no longer responding to curative treatment.
Does hospice mean giving up hope?
Absolutely not! No one knows with certainty how much time anyone has, and hope is universal. The role of Coastal Hospice is to provide care to maximize comfort, assist with emotional and spiritual issues and support the whole family for however much time remains. The point of hospice is to make a time of illness also a time of peace and comfort, bringing a lifeline of support.
Is hospice a place to go to die?
No. Hospice most often cares for patients in their own homes or wherever they are living, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It is important to note that hospice is about living and making the most of the time remaining. Coastal Hospice does run an in-patient care unit - Coastal Hospice at the Lake - at Deer's Head Hospital in Salisbury. But it is only used for short-term stays, generally five days or less, and, for example, when a patient needs their medications adjusted or when a caregiver needs respite time to rest or travel.
If a patient goes into hospice care, will the family lose their house and assets?
No. Hospice care is generally paid for by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. However, every patient receives care, including those who have no way to pay. For example, if a patient's assets consist of a home and a car but the patient has no insurance and does not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, the cost of care would be paid for by our charity program. The home and car would remain the property of the patient and the family. As a non-profit organization, Coastal Hospice puts the needs of the patient first. Coastal Hospice provides charity care thanks to the generosity of the Lower Shore community. Each year, there are 40 or more patients and families who pay nothing to Coastal Hospice. The care they receive is tailored to their needs.
Do patients need to be bedridden before hospice comes in?
No. The most common comment Coastal Hospice receives from families is, "I wish we had called hospice sooner." Many patients of Coastal Hospice are still working or actively involved in their communities or with their families. In fact, hospice care can often extend life expectancy. Coastal Hospice helps patients stay active and enjoy life.
Do patients keep their own doctors after hospice is called in?
Patients are encouraged to keep their own physicians, and Coastal Hospice consults with them on care. If patients do not have a physician, doctors on the Coastal Hospice staff step in.
Can a patient who lives alone receive care?
Yes. Many patients who live alone receive Coastal Hospice services. Staff works with patients to help them maintain independence and consider other support options as needed.
Does Coastal Hospice help with medications, oxygen and other medical equipment?
Yes, hospice will help arrange for medications, oxygen, hospital beds, wheelchairs, and other equipment or supplies. Most -- if not all -- of the cost is covered by insurance. Coastal Hospice makes sure patients have what they need.
What happens if a hospice patient gets better?
Hospice patients sometimes live longer, because their quality of life is better. They may improve to the point they no longer need hospice care. When this happens, patients may be discharged from hospice. But Coastal Hospice doesn't leave the patient and family out there alone. The Compass program of Coastal Hospice then steps in to coordinate non-medical support services and volunteer care.
Does hospice talk to the patient about death and dying?
Coastal Hospice leaves this decision up to the patient. Hospice staff only talks about death and dying if the patient wants to talk about it. Above all, Coastal Hospice respects the patient's own journey. Some hospice patients choose to have very open discussions about death, and others do not.
How can family members take care of a very ill patient when they are not trained professionals?
Family members can -- with support -- provide much of the care a patient needs. Coastal Hospice staff visits frequently and spends time teaching caregivers how to handle the patient's needs, give medications and recognize problems. Coastal Hospice is always on call and available 24 hours a day to answer questions or make personal visits.
Do hospice patients need a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)?
No, a DNR is not a requirement, but it is recommended. The hospice team can assist with preparing an advanced directive so the family and healthcare providers know precisely how the patient wants them to react in an emergency.
Does Coastal Hospice offer grief support?
Yes. Everyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one is welcome at Coastal Hospice's grief support groups, whether or not the person was with Coastal Hospice. Support groups meet regularly at convenient locations throughout the four Lower Shore counties. A schedule of meetings is posted here at our website.