Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice

What is hospice?

Hospice provides care, comfort and support for people nearing the end of life, wherever they reside. It is for people who have decided, with their physicians, that supportive care, rather than curative care, is now the goal.

With a focus on quality of life, hospice addresses the needs of the whole person, from managing pain and symptoms to providing emotional, social and spiritual support. That support extends to caregivers and family members of the patient, as well.

What makes Providence Hospice special?

Providence Health & Services is a not-for-profit Catholic ministry. Our Mission is to serve the community and embrace those who are suffering, especially the poor and vulnerable. We provide care to anyone, regardless of the ability to pay, and we respect all people equally, honoring the unique differences that make us all individuals.

Our team of dedicated hospice physicians, nurses, social workers and other professionals is passionate about serving the unique needs of each individual and family.

In addition, as part of an “integrated health system,” we can help you connect with other Providence services that may be helpful to you and your family before, during and after your hospice experience. These may include the following:

We Honor Veterans

Providence Hospice has earned the highest level of partnership (four stars) with the We Honor Veterans program, a partnership between the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the Veterans Administration. We are one of only two hospice programs in Oregon with four-star designation. Learn more about how Providence Hospice honors veterans with veteran-specific care and volunteer support from fellow veterans.

Who is on the Providence Hospice care team?

Patients and families who choose Providence Hospice receive physical, emotional and spiritual support from a team of caring professionals and volunteers, including the following:

  • Your personal physician
  • Physicians and nurse practitioners who are board-certified in hospice and palliative medicine
  • Specialized hospice nurses – more than half of our hospice nurses are CHPN certified (certified hospice and palliative care nurses)
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains
  • Hospice aides
  • Physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists
  • Volunteers

What's the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Palliative care and hospice care are similar in that both focus on providing comfort, managing pain and symptoms and promoting quality of life, rather than on curative care. The difference is that hospice focuses specifically on people in the last months of their life. Palliative care can be sought at any stage of a chronic illness or life-altering medical condition, and can be sought alongside of or instead of curative care.

For more information on palliative care

Providence Connections is a consultation service that connects people with chronic or life-altering medical conditions to palliative care resources and support. Learn more about Providence Home Health Palliative Care services.

When is it time for hospice?

It is appropriate to discuss all care options, including hospice care, at any time during the course of a life-limiting prognosis. In general, the earlier Providence Hospice can become involved with a patient, the more support we can give, both to the patient and to his or her family and caregivers.

It may be time for hospice when:

  • Curative treatment is no longer an option or is no longer desired
  • The treatment emphasis changes to providing comfort, controlling pain, managing symptoms and enhancing quality of life
  • The patient’s physician thinks that hospice can help
  • The patient knows that he or she is not going to get well (patients sometimes become aware of this before others do)

If you’re a patient or caregiver who is interested in hospice, please contact us for more information, or ask your physician for a referral.

Who is eligible for Providence Hospice?

Any adult who has a life-limiting illness and is no longer seeking curative treatment may be eligible for hospice.

Hospice care is appropriate for people with almost any type of advanced illness, including cancer, ALS and other neurological conditions, Parkinson’s disease, end-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, cardiac disease, renal disease, respiratory disease, stroke, AIDS, and so on. Hospice also is appropriate for people who don’t have a specific illness causing their decline, but are clearly approaching the end of life.

To be admitted to hospice, the patient’s physician must certify that the patient has an estimated life expectancy of six months or less, and that the patient has made a decision to seek comfort care only.

Contact us. 

Where is hospice care provided?

Providence provides hospice care for patients in the comfort of their own residence, whether they live in a private home, a retirement home, an assisted living facility, an adult care home or a nursing home.

Service areas

Our services are available to patients and families in these counties:

  • Washington
  • Multnomah
  • Clackamas
  • Yamhill
  • Jackson
  • Josephine
  • Hood River
  • Wasco
  • Sherman
  • Gilliam
  • Morrow
  • Wheeler
  • Parts of Marion

See our service area map.

Do I have to leave my doctor to start hospice care?

When you start hospice care, you do not have to leave your doctor’s care. Your current doctor can remain with you as your “attending physician.” The Providence Hospice medical director will review your hospice plan of care and will consult with your doctor as needed, and the hospice staff will work closely with your doctor on all aspects of your care.

What can I expect during the first hospice visit?

At your first hospice “admission visit,” a hospice nurse and/or social worker will meet with the patient, family and caregivers in the patient’s home or residence. This is our first chance to get to know each other. We’ll ask you a lot of questions to help us tailor our services to your individual needs and preferences, and we’ll answer all of your questions.

Here is some information to help you prepare for the visit.

Before the visit: How to prepare

  • Plan to have at least one family member, friend or caregiver with the patient during the visit.
  • If the patient is not able to give consent, make sure that the person who has legal responsibility for making health care decisions on behalf of the patient is present at the visit.
  • Have all of the patient’s medications out for the nurse to review and record. This includes any over-the-counter medications and supplements that the patient is using.
  • Have all insurance, Medicare and/or Medicaid cards available for review.
  • Have copies of any advance directives available for review, including Healthcare Power of Attorney papers (HPOA) and Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

During the visit: What will happen

During the visit, the hospice nurse and/or social worker will do the following:

  • Explain hospice services and answer your questions
  • Review your rights related to hospice
  • Discuss your goals and expectations for the hospice experience
  • Explain what you can expect as the patient’s illness progresses to help you prepare for the future
  • Collect your signatures on several forms, including the provision of privacy notice, consent for service, and election of insurance benefits
  • The ability to provide a review and recommend steps for options in caregiving and legal concerns, including community resources.
  • Complete a physical, mental and emotional assessment of the patient
  • Confirm that hospice is the most appropriate service for the patient, and that the patient meets the eligibility criteria
  • Review the patient’s medications
  • Order any necessary medical equipment and supplies
  • Confer with the patient’s attending physician, the hospice medical director and other team members, as needed, to develop the patient’s care plan

After the visit: Continuing support

After your admission visit, the Hospice Care Team nurse will contact you to schedule a regular nurse visit. Your Hospice Care Team includes a nurse, social worker, chaplain, hospice aide, volunteer and others, as needed. You have 24/7 access to our services and can contact us at any time.

How is hospice covered?

Medicare (including Medicare Advantage plans), Medicaid and most private insurance plans cover hospice services. In addition, Providence Hospice never denies services because of an inability to pay.

The Medicare hospice benefit does not cover the following:

  • Treatment intended to cure a terminal illness
  • Care from more than one hospice provider
  • Room and board at assisted living facilities, nursing facilities or adult family homes

How do I refer a patient?

Any adult can make a hospice referral. If you are a patient, caregiver, family member or friend who is considering hospice, please see our eligibility guidelines and contact us for more information, or ask the patient’s physician for a referral.

How do I volunteer?

More information on volunteering with Providence may be found here.