Understanding How Patients Qualify for Hospice Care

hospice nurse

When someone is facing a life-limiting illness, you and your family will do whatever you can to ensure they get the best care possible. This is where hospice care plays an important role as it provides a valuable service to both families and the patient themselves. Hospice care focuses on improving the patient’s quality of life through home care nursing services and supporting the family. However, this begs the question, “How does one become eligible for hospice care?”

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a form of palliative care that focuses on relieving symptoms when living with a serious illness. It comes into play once someone has exhausted all possible medical treatments or is approaching the end of their life. Like palliative care, hospice care uses a team approach to provide physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical support for the patient and the family.

The good thing about hospice care is that it can be given at any place chosen by the patient or the patient’s family. Whether you want to receive care in a nursing home, a care facility, a hospital, or even have home care services; it’s all up to you to decide which works best. The ultimate goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible while managing the patient’s symptoms.

Who Is Eligible for Hospice Care?

Medicare has established guidelines for hospice admissions for most major terminal illnesses. Together with the patient’s doctor and the hospice care professional, you can explore whether your loved one is eligible for hospice or not. There are a few things that count towards a patient having hospice eligibility.

Patient’s Life Expectancy

Perhaps the main criteria for determining a patient’s hospice eligibility is being diagnosed with a terminal illness and a life expectancy of six months or less. This status must be certified by a doctor, and the medical director of the hospice must agree with the physician’s assessment. 

The Patient’s Condition Doesn’t Improve

There are situations when a patient undergoes treatment, but their condition doesn’t improve over time, and the illness might progress to end-stage disease. Only then can hospice care be considered for the patient.

The Objectives of the Patient’s Care Have Changed

If the patient realizes they are not improving and they no longer wish to receive curative treatment in the hospital, it may be time for hospice. This is especially helpful when a patient grows anxious about the prospect of dying as they can find emotional and spiritual comfort in the care of hospice professionals.

The Patient Suffers an Acute Health Event

When a patient with a terminal illness suffers an acute health event like a stroke or a heart attack, they may need a different level of care than the one they currently receive. They will be subjected to a health assessment by a hospice nurse to see if the patient is suitable for hospice care.


Any patient diagnosed with a terminal illness need not suffer, especially if they’re nearing the end of their life. They need all the support they can get and the family during this great time of need. By learning about the eligibility criteria for hospice care, you now have an idea of how you can work alongside hospice professionals to give the best care possible to your loved one.

Through Gateway Home Health & Hospice, you can work with a team of highly trained and compassionate health care professionals to give you the care you deserve. 

We provide home health, hospice, and specialty programs to serve our community. If you need hospice care in Phoenix, Arizona, please reach out to us.

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