Frequently Asked Questions

When is it appropriate to consider hospice care and who should initiate the discussion?
At any time during a terminal illness, it is appropriate to discuss all of a patient's care options, including hospice. Discussions that change the focus of care from curative to comfort care can be difficult. While hospice care does not provide a cure, it does provide an option for an individual that focuses on comfort and quality of life. Hospice staff members are available to discuss these concerns with the patient, family and doctor.

The patient and family should feel free to initiate the discussion at any time with their doctor, other health care professionals, clergy or friends.

How difficult is caring for a dying one at home?
The role of a caregiver is challenging, yet, hospice can offer support in this often unfamiliar role. Hospice will provide caregivers with the education and skills necessary to allow loved ones to die gently and comfortably.

Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice team makes it possible for patients to enjoy the comforts of home by supporting and empowering families to become the best caregivers in the management of the patient's physical symptoms, provision of day-to-day care, and the administration of medications.

Care may involve more than meeting the physical needs of the patient. A terminal illness can affect emotions, relationships, finances and spiritual strength. Hospice addresses these aspects of a terminal illness when appropriate.

Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice staff is concerned about the caregiver as well as the patient. We are aware that caregivers need periodic relief. Trained volunteers are available to visit the patient on an ongoing or as needed basis. Should the caregiver need a more extended period of relief, hospice can arrange short-term respite care. If the patient requires hospital care for the management of symptoms or admission to a nursing home, hospice coordinates these transitions on behalf of the patient and family. In most cases, hospice care continues uninterrupted from one setting to another.

What specific assistance does hospice provide?
Care is coordinated by an interdisciplinary team comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice aides, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement counselors. Team members offer a full continuum of hospice care to support patients in whatever stage of illness they face. Our integrated team coordinates ongoing care that encompasses physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs, continually responding to the patient and family as the illness progresses.

Bereavement support for the family is provided by team members for up to one year following the patient's death.

Is a home the only place hospice can be delivered?
Hospice care is primarily provided in the home, whether "home" is a person's house, an intermediate care, assisted living, or long-term care facility. Because, at home, patients are surrounded by the loving support of their family and friends.