What Is Hospice?

What services does hospice provide?


Hospice offers a wide range of services to support you and your family, friends, and caregivers at no cost to the patient or family. 


Six part videos series about Hospice Care produced by NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization)


Choosing a Hospice (NHPCO)


Visits by professional staff and volunteers


A nurse and other team members visit regularly to respond to changing needs. Services available from your hospice team:



  • Nursing visits (they come to you)

  • Patient comfort/pain control

  • Medical and social assessment

  • Support for caregivers

  • Social worker visits

  • Family, individual, and group counseling

  • Spiritual counseling

  • Hospice aides

  • Respite care

  • Grief and bereavement support

  • Chaplain services available

  • Medications related to the terminal illness

Equipment and supplies. This may include such items as an adjustable bed, shower bench, wheelchair, and other items to keep you comfortable, independent, and safe.


While hospice staff and volunteers cannot be with you every minute of the day, they will help family and friends develop a plan to ensure your safety and comfort.


Hospice advice and emergency on-call care are available 24 hours a day. A nurse is always just a phone call away.


You are eligible for hospice when the following conditions are met:



  • Your physician and you agree that if your disease were to run its natural course, you would be expected to live for six months or less.

  • You decide that continued attempts for cure are either futile or undesirable and choose comfort care over curative treatment with the goal of living the rest of life as fully and comfortably as possible.

Hospice will work with your physician to verify appropriateness for hospice. Once confirmation is obtained, a nurse and social worker will make an admission visit to discuss details of hospice.


Whether your doctor has mentioned it or you've come to the conclusion on your own that hospice may be needed, please contact us. We will answer your questions and help assess your current situation. If you are ready for hospice, we will contact your physician and begin the admission process. If the time isn't right, we can provide information on interim options.


How does it work?


Once it is determined that a patient qualifies for hospice care, a specially trained medical team and support staff is available to help them and their family cope with the terminal illness.


The patient’s doctor and the hospice medical team work together with the patient and their family to set up a plan of care that meets the patient’s specific needs.


"Comfort care" measures are employed to help make the patient’s last months of life more peaceful. Comfort care focuses on symptom control and pain relief with the goal of increasing the quality of life for the patient and the family.


Nursing care, home health aide services, equipment, and supplies are all provided to make the patient as comfortable and pain free as possible. Social and spiritual counseling are also part of the hospice plan of care.


Who is Involved?


Our goal is to assist patients and their loved ones in effectively coping with the special problems encountered in the final stages of life.  Hospice philosophy stresses patient comfort and relief of pain.  We want our patients to have the highest quality of life available to them as defined by their values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices.


The Hospice Team


You and your family are essential members of the Hospice Team and your needs and wishes guide other team members. You are entitled to any of Hospice’s services and can refuse a service if in consultation with your Hospice team; a given service does not meet your needs.


Your Hospice Nurse works under the direction of the patient's physician, making visits to the home to assess the patient’s condition and make changes in the plan of care as indicated. The nurse provides nursing care, instructions and support for the patient and family.


On-Call Nurse responds to calls after hours. Our answering service will take the message and contact the on-call nurse. The after hours service may be used for a significant change in the patient’s condition, and questions about medications and treatments. During the telephone call, the nurse will assess the situation and either provides telephone support or make a nursing visit.


Your Hospice CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is available to assist with personal care activities. The CNA can assist with bathing, dressing, personal care needs and works under the direction of the hospice nurse.


Social Worker: Social Services include an assessment by a licensed social worker, assistance with Medicare, Medicaid and insurance forms, as well as help in utilizing community resources. Counseling is available to meet family needs and to assist with legal forms such as living wills and power of attorney.


Hospice Bereavement Counselor is available to offer grief support to assist the family through the mourning and readjustment process before and following the death of the hospice patient. Grief education and counseling are available through individual, family, and group meetings.


Hospice Volunteers are everyday people who receive specialized training in providing support for the patient and family. This includes such things as shopping, running errands, respite time, or just talking with the patient and family. The Hospice Volunteer Coordinator works with the Hospice Team to assign a volunteer who matches your situation.


Hospice Chaplains are available to offer solace to anyone who finds a need to explore the meaning of his/her faith or belief system.


Hospice Medical Director works with your physician to ensure medical care that combines attention to your specific needs with the best palliative treatment (to reduce discomfort not to cure).


Special Services: If appropriate, other services may be available such as a dietitian, speech, occupational and physical therapists.


Medical Supplies such as gowns, pads, gloves are available as needed. Medical Equipment such as a bed, oxygen and other equipment is available as needed. Medications related to the terminal illness or symptoms thereof are provided as needed. Respite Care is a brief/temporary stay in a hospital to provide caregiver’s rest.


Who Pays for Hospice


Hospice care is a covered service under Medicare Part A and the Illinois Medicaid benefit.


Most insurance companies have hospice benefits. Check your policy or with your local agent to determine the provisions of your policy.


Generous financial support from the communities we serve, including memorials and donations of friends, families and corporations, allow Hospice of the Rock River Valley to provide care to all patients and families at no cost.


The availability of Medicare/Medicaid or private insurance is not a criterion for admission to Hospice of the Rock River Valley. Find out more about the Medicare Hospice Benefit.