Five Hospice Care Misconceptions

By: Jennifer Broadway

Hospice care is like working in a ministry. We work side by side with chaplains, social workers, and physicians. We’re educators and confidants. We help people come together and make amends with family members in the final stages of their lives.  

It’s also a deeply personal experience for me. I’ve been a nurse for 28 years and have worked in hospice care for the past 10 years, but none of that compares to navigating my husband and father through hospice care in 2021 and 2022.  

That personal and professional experience has also made me keenly aware of what hospice care is and what it isn’t. There are many misconceptions about hospice care, and these are just a few of them:  

1. It’s for those with few days to live.

 This isn’t the case. In fact, hospice care is designed to support patients over extended periods, allowing them to embrace a quality of life for as long as possible. On average, the duration of a patient’s stay in hospice care is around 180 days, revealing that this supportive care can help patients live longer with better quality days.   

2 . Patients relinquish control.

 On the contrary, hospice care is meant to support the physical, emotional, spiritual, and other needs of the patients and their families, allowing them to guide their own journey. The patient always retains the right to leave hospice care and return to treatment if they wish. 

3. It is only for cancer patients.  

 Hospice care can be used to treat a wide range of terminal illnesses and chronic conditions, such as heart failure, kidney disease, lung problems, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. 

4. Hospice care is expensive.  

 Many people can receive hospice care fully paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. It is also typically covered by many private insurance companies. 

5. Hospice doesn’t make a difference. 

 This, for me, is the biggest misconception about hospice care. Though there may be little or no expectation of a cure, hospice care enables patients to live comfortably with as little pain and stress as possible. It also gives comfort to families who have a loved one in need of care.  

 Tending to patients’ physical needs and providing emotional and spiritual support can help improve the person’s overall quality of life while maintaining their dignity. In the right hands and the right environment, the difference that hospice care provides, and the comfort it gives to patients and their families, can be remarkable. I see it every day and lived it firsthand.  

 Jennifer Broadway, BSN, MS, RN, CHPN, is an administrator for hospice and palliative care with CC Young Senior Living. Visit or call 214-989-4527. 

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