No, a family can ask for a hospice evaluation at any time, however a physician must write an order for hospice admission and agree that the individual has a life-limiting illness and that hospice with a focus on comfort and quality of life is the best course of treatment. Our team can help assess whether hospice is an appropriate choice for you or a loved one.
Reputation is extremely important in choosing a hospice. Wellstar Community Hospice is led by board-certified palliative medicine physicians-specially trained in pain and symptom management. Our program is Joint Commission accredited. We have served our community for 30 years. Patients and families get peace of mind from knowing that our hospice program is part of the WellStar Health System.
The hospice concept dates from the 1960s when pioneers in the field identified the need to provide comfort to terminally ill people who, despite aggressive treatment, would not recover. They found that, rather than continuing heroic measures that may be painful and physically and emotionally draining, it might be preferable to relieve the pain – and fear of pain – and let those with a limited life expectancy live with dignity.
Hospice neither prolongs life nor hastens death. Rather, it is an interdisciplinary approach to comfort-enhancing care during the months following diagnosis of a life-limiting illness. It focuses on symptom management and comfort.
Most hospice care is delivered in a private home or nursing home, but inpatient facilities are also available when a patient has care needs that cannot be managed in the home setting.
The typical response to hospice by families is one of overwhelming appreciation of the compassion and thoughtfulness of the delivery of the care in the different settings. Often we are told that the families wish they would have had hospice services earlier in the course of the treatment of the disease.
All hospices must be certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and licensed to provide services in the state of Georgia. Certification is based on specific standards that provide for quality services and are called Conditions of Participation.
In addition to this requirement, WellStar Community Hospice is certified by The Joint Commission. The Joint Commission accreditation is voluntary and is a recognized symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting high performance standards above and beyond the basic standards required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. WellStar Community Hospice was one of the first hospice programs accredited by the Joint Commission in the state of Georgia.
Hospices must be certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to be licensed to provide services in the state of Georgia, and to receive payment for Medicare and Medicaid services.
Yes, we would be pleased to provide you with a tour of either of our inpatient facilities or to meet you in your home to discuss home hospice services. Please call our general number, (770) 732-6741 to arrange a time for a private tour or home meeting to discuss Wellstar Community Hospice philosophy and services provided and to answer any questions you may have about hospice care with one of our experienced hospice team members.
No, this is not true and is one of many myths that have grown up around hospice. Other myths include:
Hospice means giving up or giving up hope. When life expectancy is limited, hospice supports the choice to live every day to the fullest, our focus is on comfort and quality of life.
Hospice is a place. Hospice is a philosophy of care, not a place. In fact, 70 % of hospice care is provided in the patient’s home or place of residence.
Hospice is just for people with cancer. More than half of those who receive hospice care do not have cancer. Many hospice patients have cardiac, pulmonary, renal and neurological conditions.
Hospice is only for people who are very near death. In some cases hospice patients are stabilized and their lives are extended by the care they receive from the hospice team. The national average length of stay in hospice is 67 days, but many patients receive hospice services for six months and longer.
Hospice stops all medications. Each patient’s care plan is individualized in collaboration with the patient’s physician. Sometimes medications are eliminated that no longer help impact the patient’s life expectancy. Many hospice patients choose to receive antibiotics.
Hospice care is prohibitively expensive. Many hospice patients are covered by Medicare Part A or Medicaid that pay 100 percent of hospice care charges. Most commercial insurance plans cover hospice. We are happy to assist you with understanding your insurance coverage for hospice services.
Our goal is to always honor the wishes of our patients and families. We listen carefully during all discussions to understand the patient’s unique needs and circumstances. We involve the patient and family in treatment planning to ensure agreement about the best course of care and encourage patients and family members to speak openly with the hospice team to ensure cultural traditions are honored.
We also recognize that there may be different views among family members. We try to help the family members come to consensus by explaining procedures, outcomes and possible side effects, and by providing adequate information for decision-making.
WellStar provides all hospice team members with a monthly Cultural Diversity lesson about people represented in the greater Atlanta area. In addition, the hospice team uses a variety of resources to honor the beliefs and culture of patients and families we serve.
WellStar Community Hospice is always looking for compassionate and caring team members in all disciplines. Our current open positions are posted on our career web page, wellstarcareers.org. You may also contact a WellStar hospice career specialist at (470) 245-9936 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because care at WellStar Community Hospice is patient-centered, the schedule at our hospice inpatient locations is patient driven. The schedule for care and services – from wakeup and mealtime to medications – is dictated by the patient’s medical and personal needs.
At the inpatient sites, a typical day revolves around the patient’s need for rest, sleep, medications , and treatments. For respite patients, activities are designed to their interest and ability. Activities may include reading, visiting, music, time on the screened porches as weather permits, and quiet reflection. Volunteers and staff often suggest activities related to a patient’s personal interests.
There are no established visiting hours at the hospice inpatient facilities. Family and friends are encouraged to visit and a call to the patient or to a staff member can help you plan your visit time.
Recognizing that interest in food and preferences can change due to medications and physical condition, we offer a wide variety of menu choices.
Pain management is often a concern for patients with a life-limiting illness. Our physicians and nurses focus on identifying the source of the pain and rapidly developing a care plan to address the pain.
Pain is personal. Some people talk openly about it while others hold back, reluctant to acknowledge discomfort. Our staff is expert at identifying clues that can help reveal what’s going on even when a patient does not verbally express it. Clues can include tightly closed eyes, knitted eyebrows, wrinkled forehead, flinching at touch, clenched fists and body stiffening. Fear, anguish or sadness can make pain worse.
We administer pain medication at the lowest level to achieve the patient’s desired level of pain control. Additional medicines are tailored to the type, intensity and source of the pain. Beyond medication by mouth, topical, subcutaneous (under the skin) or intravenous medications are added as the need increases.
When drugs are required to relieve intense pain, hospice physicians work with the clinical team members to help the patient and family learn to administer the prescribed medications safely. Medications can have side effects, such as drowsiness. The team will discuss the situation with the patient and family to achieve the right balance of pain relief and ability to participate in family and social interaction.
Non-medical means of reducing pain are also explored and used in combination with medication. Some examples of complementary therapies are music, deep breathing, aromatherapy, massage, Healing Touch, guided imagery, life review, pet therapy and the presence of loved ones.
WellStar Community Hospice provides patient and family-centered care. Our team listens and asks questions that enable us to propose the most appropriate plan of care for the patient while seeking to meet the expectations of the family.
Chaplains and social workers work closely with patients and families to deal with the emotions, concerns and difficulties associated with caring for someone with a life-limiting illness. Volunteers are happy to support the patient in a variety of ways such as providing companionship, reading to the patient, writing letters or just holding hands.
Asked what they appreciated about WellStar Community Hospice, patients and family members most often mention the team members who entered their lives at a very vulnerable and difficult time. From physicians to volunteers, our team members are experts in their areas of specialty, but most importantly, they are passionate about end of life care.
It is never easy and can sometimes be difficult to care for a loved one at home. Caregivers are not alone when they are with hospice: the entire hospice team is there to give support and encouragement. There will be visits from nurses, hospice aides, social workers, and massage therapists to supplement care. The hospice nurse and social worker supply instruction on giving medications, providing care, and what to expect throughout the dying process. There are also trained volunteers who offer respite care to give family members a break and/or provide companionship to the patient.
Family members regularly report how much it means to them to be able to take care of someone they love themselves. WellStar Community Hospice offers the support, education, and encouragement to every caregiver.
Advice and support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, should questions or concerns arise at night or on the weekend.
Each person's own physician remains an integral part of the hospice team whenever possible. If this isn't feasible or preferred, our Medical Director can provide guidance for a person's care.
Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance providers cover all hospice care costs, including medications, equipment and supplies that relate to the terminal diagnosis.
Through community donations, we are able to care for all who need our services. No one is refused hospice care due to inability to pay.
It can be hard for doctors to know how long a person will live. Some people live longer than expected. If you live longer than six months, you can continue on Hospice as long as you meet eligibility criteria.
There are times when a patient's medical condition improves and Hospice services may no longer be appropriate. At that time our hospice team of professionals will work with you to establish an alternative plan of care. If at a later time you are in need of Hospice services, Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance will provide coverage for your return to our program, based on eligibility criteria.