Frequently Asked Questions


Hospice is a special kind of caring for people with a life-limiting illness and their families. Hospice services are available to persons who can no longer benefit from curative treatment and need symptom management to improve quality of life.

Who can make a hospice referral?

Anyone can make a Hospice referral but a doctor must agree that the patient meets Hospice criteria and agree to follow the patient under Hospice care.


Can Hospice patients go to the hospital?

Yes, a Hospice patient can go to the hospital; however, many prefer not to. In a nursing facility, unwanted hospitalizations can usually be avoided with Hospice intervention.


Does choosing Hospice care mean giving up all medical treatment?

Hospice places the patient and family at the center of the care-planning process and provides high-quality symptom control and pain management.


Does a patient have to be near death to receive Hospice care?

Hospice patients must only meet criteria of a six month or less prognosis to be admitted to Hospice care. Often patients are active and care for themselves.


Is Hospice only for cancer patients?

Hospice patient are diagnosed with many conditions other than cancer.


Will Hospice take my house?

No. Hospice care is provided regardless of coverage. Medicare beneficiaries pay little or nothing for Hospice, and most insurance plans, HMOs and managed care plans include hospice coverage.


When is the right time to make a hospice referral?

The simple answer is right now. If you are thinking about hospice, don’t wait. Call. Our staff is experienced with all the questions that are racing through your head. Grief starts immediately and so does hospice. Let us answer your questions, provide support and comfort you in this time of uncertainty.

  • Do you need assistance with daily activities?
  • Do you spend most of the day in bed or in a chair?
  • Are the treatments for your disease no longer effective?
  • Has your doctor told you your life expectancy is limited?
  • Are you experiencing unpleasant and uncontrolled pain, nausea, shortness of breath or anxiety?
  • Have you made frequent trips to the hospital or doctor’s office in the last six months?
  • Have you unexpectedly lost weight in the last six months?
  • Are your family members overwhelmed and unsure they are providing you with the best possible care?
    If you can answer YES to more than two of the questions above, perhaps it is time to consult with Hospice.
Quick Facts and More Information
  • Hospice is a choice.
  • Hospice neither hastens nor prolongs death.
  • Hospice is recommended for patients who have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness or those in the advanced stages of long-term chronic illnesses such as heart disease or COPD.
  • The goal of hospice is to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support to reduce suffering and preserve dignity and peacefulness.
  • The hospice team is comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, nursing assistants and volunteers.
  • Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance cover hospice benefits; however Hospice of Lake Cumberland relies upon donations from the community to provide Hospice care for all, regardless of ability to pay.

Does Hospice allow IVs?

Yes, in cases where IV fluids or antibiotics will promote comfort and quality of life HLC does provide those therapies in the home, nursing home and hospital settings. However, in patients who have declined to the point that their bodies are no longer able to process extra fluids and who have stopped drinking as a “normal” part of their disease/dying process, the introduction of artificial hydration would not be recommended.


Does Hospice allow feeding tubes?

Yes, HLC does serve patient with feeding tubes who desire intake and can physically tolerate nutrition but are unable to eat due to disease processes such as stroke, throat or esophageal cancers, swallowing difficulties, etc. The exceptions are patients suffering from illnesses characterized in their end-stages by anorexia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, in which case tube feeding would not be an appropriate Hospice measure.


Do Hospice patients have to be a DNR?

No, hospice staff does not perform CPR but the decision to be resuscitated or not lies with the patient, family and doctor. Hospice nurses and social workers explain Advanced Directives to patient and families to ensure that they are aware of their rights and have the information necessary to make informed decisions. The exception is for placement in the Jean Waddle Care Center; those patients must be a DNR because the care center is only staffed by HLC employees.


Does Hospice overdose patients on liquid morphine?

No, Hospice nurses receive all medication orders from the patient’s attending MD. Orders to titrate (increase) the medication are also signed by the attending MD for each patient individually. The myth that liquid morphine is used to over medicate patients comes from the sad number of people who are referred to hospice at the last minute, already in a state of active dying process.


How long do Hospice patients live?

The longer Hospice cares for a patient the better their symptoms will be controlled and the more prepared they and their family will be when death comes. Some Hospice patients long exceed the expectancy of their illness due to excellent nursing intervention and support and live longer. Others stabilize so completely that they are discharged from Hospice. Every patient is treated as a unique person with hope always alive.


HLC is committed to serving patients in whatever setting they call home.

Hospice care in the nursing home can provide:

  • Benefit of receiving care from both health care organizations
  • Spiritual and emotional support for both the patient and family
  • Help with practical matters associated with terminal illness
  • Coordination of services and care with the patient’s family doctor
  • Expert management of physical symptoms
  • Bereavement and support groups for families


When is it time to call Hospice for a nursing home resident?

  • Has been in hospital lately
  • Has lost their independence or has been less active
  • Was walking last week but isn’t this week
  • Has had significant weight loss
  • Requires assistance from staff during the majority of the day
  • Is struggling with feeding
  • Requires additional family support
  • Is now on continual O2
  • Has had a significant fall
  • Has wounds that are not improving
  • Is receiving supplements
  • Had has repeated UTI or respiratory infections

The earlier you call, the sooner you will discover advantages that hospice has to offer you or your loved one. Calling with questions is strongly encouraged. We are ready to listen. We are ready to help.

We are Hospice.