End-of-life care is also known as hospice care. This specialized program places emphasis on the patient’s pain and symptom management and quality of life in the last six to twelve months of an end stage disease or illness. These can include: Alzheimer’s disease and end stage dementia, liver and kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer, and complications from AIDS.
Hospice care is available at home or in most assisted living facilities and skilled nursing homes throughout Pennsylvania. The patient’s family and caregivers also receive support through the program that include help with respite care and bereavement support. The coordinated care works with doctors, nurses, specialists, social workers, clergy, home health aides, and volunteers. With hospice care, you can keep your primary physician and certain treatments that bring comfort, like physical therapy. Studies show that patients receiving hospice care live longer than those not receiving this specialized care in the latter stages of a disease.
You want to find a hospice service staffed with a caring and competent team that provides quality care and timely delivery of services. You can ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations as well as your physician. Online senior care directories also list reviews for providers in the Pittsburgh area.
Hospice providers in Pennsylvania are required to be licensed and certified. Many also seek additional accreditation through CHAP, the Community Health Accreditation Partner, and an independent accreditation board. You can find a national database of providers on CHAP’s website. Any hospice providers accepting Medicare must be Medicare certified and meet federal requirements.
Community hospice providers deliver a wide range of services, so the cost for hospice care varies between facilities and patients. Medicare Part A pays a set reimbursement rate to facilities and agencies and covers hospice 100 percent as long as you meet the requirements and your doctor certifies that you need hospice care.
If you are a veteran, or the spouse of a vet, your TRICARE insurance will cover palliative care. Most personal insurances will cover hospice, but you should confirm that hospice is listed as a benefit on the policy. If you do not qualify for Medicare or have a third-party insurance, the hospice service may provide you with sliding scale fees based on your income (since Pennsylvania Medicaid does not cover hospice care) or offer you payment plan options.
You can find plenty of hospice services throughout Pittsburgh. Some of these services are offered as programs within assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities, and Alzheimer’s care centers. These include facilities like winners of SeniorAdvisor.com’s Best of Senior Living 2016 award: Juniper Village at Forest Hills and Brookdale Mt. Lebanon. You can find other facilities online such as Sunrise Senior Living of McCandless,Sunrise Senior Living of Upper St. Clair, and Overlook Green Senior Living.
There are also about a dozen hospice agencies in the Pittsburgh area: Seven Oaks Hospice Care, Family Hospice and Palliative Care, Sivitz Jewish Hospice, Vitas Healthcare, Compassionate Care Hospice, and Grane Hospice.
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