November is Home Care & Hospice Month


November is Home Care & Hospice Month and the perfect time to celebrate all the wonderful, compassionate caregivers throughout the country who dedicate their lives to others. In many ways, these people are unsung heroes since much of what they do goes unrecognized or misunderstood. We’d like to shine a spotlight on what their jobs entail, which is why below, we answer some of your questions about home care and hospice.

Q: A friend told me that I should get home care for my father who is 80 years old and slowing down. For example, he has Type 1 diabetes and is starting to forget to take his insulin; does this fall under home care? I’m embarrassed to say, I’m not entirely sure what home care is. Could you please explain?

A: There is no need to be embarrassed! Many people don’t learn about home care, sometimes referred to as home health care, until they need it. And it sounds like your father could be a perfect candidate for home care. Some patients receiving home health care require just a few days or weeks while others need long-term care for chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Now, he just needs to talk to his physician and ask for a referral for home care. And generally speaking, whatever a patient’s needs are, they will be met by compassionate, skilled clinicians in the comfort of the patient’s home.

Q: My wife is having knee surgery and may need post-op surgical home care. We are too young for Medicare but do have health insurance. Do home health companies accept all health insurances? How does this all work?

A: Typically, a doctor referral is needed for home care. In the case with your wife, after her knee surgery, the doctor may refer her for post-op care or physical therapy at home initially, which would often be covered by insurance. If the home health company does not accept her insurance, then ask your doctor (or typically a social worker in the hospital) for help with finding a home health company that does accept your insurance.

Q: My grandfather has terminal cancer and his doctor suggested he consider hospice, but he says he “doesn’t want to give up.” Does going on hospice mean that you’re going to die?

A: Hospice is a special kind of care for people who no longer expect a cure for their illness, however, what’s unique and indeed beautiful about hospice is that it focuses on living. It is a type of care that offers those affected by a life-limiting illness peace of mind that their quality of life is the focus of care. Hospice is traditionally thought to be for those who are in the last six months of life, but some individuals receive hospice services for years if their disease process is slow. In addition, if they suddenly start to improve significantly, then they will be taken off hospice care.

Q: Someone told me that it’s important to get on hospice early and I don’t really understand why. Can you explain if that’s true, and if so, why?

A: Because hospice is focused on living, people who utilize hospice services earlier have more time to discuss goals and create an optimal plan of care designed around their wishes. What’s more, hospice’s focus on quality of life helps ensure that whatever remaining time a person has left on this earth will be peaceful with optimal symptom management and control of pain.  

Q: I am 70 and have a terminal illness and would like to go on hospice but am concerned about the cost. How much does hospice cost?

A: Hospice care is a Medicare benefit. Most private insurers also cover hospice care as well. Some hospices have a charity program, which helps to care for all patients, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.

Q: My spouse wants to go on hospice, but I don’t want him to spend his final days away from home. Are there any options?

A: Actually, hospice is not a place – a common myth. This confusion is understandable. But in reality, hospice care usually takes place in the comfort of your home but can be provided in any environment in which you live, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals and, when care can no longer be manager at home and if you live in Indian River County, the VNA Hospice House is an option.

This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is committed to bringing trusted and quality home health and private care to Brevard County patients. For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit