focuses on providing comfort and quality of life for people with terminal illnesses and life expectancies of six months or less. While can be a difficult decision for families, it can also be a source of support and relief during a challenging time. In this article, we will explain the process of getting your loved one into hospice care and answer some common questions.

Discuss with the Physician

The first step to getting your loved one on hospice care is to talk to their primary care physician or specialist. They will evaluate your loved one's condition and and determine whether hospice care is appropriate for them. They will also explain the benefits and limitations of hospice care and answer any questions.

If the physician agrees that hospice care is suitable for your loved one, they will provide a referral to a of your choice. You can also ask for recommendations or do your research to find a hospice agency that meets your needs and preferences.

Meet with the Hospice Nurse

The next step is meeting with a from your selected agency. The will visit your loved one at home, hospital, or other settings and comprehensively assess their medical condition and care needs. The hospice nurse will also explain the services and support the hospice agency can provide and answer any questions you may have.

Develop a Care Plan

Based on the assessment, the hospice nurse will work with you, your loved one, and the physician to develop a personalized for your loved one. The will outline your loved one's goals and preferences and the types and frequency of services and support they will receive from the hospice team. The hospice team may include nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, volunteers, and other professionals who provide medical, emotional, and spiritual care for your loved one and your family.

Receive Hospice Care

Once the care plan is in place, the hospice agency will provide all the necessary equipment and supplies for your loved one's comfort and safety, such as a hospital bed, oxygen, medications, and so on. A hospice nurse will be assigned to provide ongoing care and support for your loved one and coordinate with the rest of the hospice team. The hospice nurse will also monitor your loved one's condition and communicate with the physician and the hospice agency.

The hospice agency will also provide emotional and spiritual support for your loved one and your family throughout the hospice care journey. They will offer counseling, grief support, education, and other resources to help you cope with the challenges and changes of hospice care.

Adjust the Care Plan

Hospice care is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is flexible and responsive to the changing needs and wishes of your loved one and your family. If your loved one's condition changes or their needs increase, the hospice care plan can be adjusted accordingly. For example, the hospice team may increase the frequency of visits, provide additional services, or arrange inpatient care if needed.

Frequently asked questions

  • What determines whether a person is appropriate for hospice or not? The person in question must have a terminal illness with a of six months or less to live if the disease processes involved take their normal course.
  • What is the difference between palliative care and hospice care? Palliative care can take place for any disease process without requiring the disease to be terminal, and even if terminal, aggressive treatment can try to cure the disease while still providing (palliative equals comfort). Hospice is palliative care at the end of life, whereby the patient has decided to forgo any aggressive or otherwise curative treatment to focus just on .
  • Are all hospice agencies alike? No! There should be interviews among two or more hospice agencies to determine which agency would best fit the needs of the patient, family, and friends. And one of the key questions should be who the parent owner of the agency as agencies can have separate names but still be owned by a single-parent company.
  • Does a hospice patient have to die in six months or less to remain on ? Absolutely not! If the patient desires hospice care AND the hospice agency can prove sufficient decline during each benefit period, the patient can remain in hospice. However, suppose the patient remains stable (no significant decline) for extended periods. In that case, hospice may discharge the patient for failure to decline related to a lack of evidence that the patient is truly terminal.
  • Can a patient revoke hospice service entirely or transfer to another hospice agency? Absolutely! Communicate with your hospice agency about your desire and plan accordingly.


Hospice care is a compassionate and holistic type of care that aims to provide comfort and quality of life for people who have a terminal illness and a life expectancy of six months or less. Hospice care can be challenging for families but can provide support and relief during a difficult time. To get your loved one on hospice care, you need to discuss with their physician, meet with a hospice nurse, develop a care plan, receive hospice care, and adjust the care plan as needed. Hospice care is not about giving up but focusing on what matters most for your loved one and family. With the proper support and care, you can ensure that your loved one is as comfortable and peaceful as possible during their final stages of life.


Picking a hospice agency to provide hospice services

What are the levels of care in hospice?

What exactly does home hospice cover?

Providing Comfort During the Last Days of Life with Barbara Karnes RN (YouTube Video)

Preparing the patient, family, and caregivers for a “Good Death.”

Velocity of Changes in Condition as an Indicator of Approaching Death (often helpful to answer how soon? or when?)

The Dying Process and the End of Life

The Last Hours of Life

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Gone from My Sight: The Dying Experience

The Eleventh Hour: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes Before Death

By Your Side, A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home

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