Frequently Asked Questions


Is hospice a facility like a nursing home or hospital?

Hospice is not a place, but a philosophy of care providing medical, emotional and spiritual care focusing on comfort and quality of life.

Hospice is not about a specific location. It provides care which takes place wherever the patient calls home, including a nursing home, assisted living or a home especially for hospice patients.

How do I contact OSF Hospice?
Please call (800) 673-5288 for hospice information or to initiate an evaluation.
Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make to my home before hospice care begins?

As part of the hospice benefit, we will provide and pay for your equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses.

In general, hospice will assist in any way possible to make home care as convenient and safe as possible.

Can you keep your personal doctor?
Our OSF Hospice care team includes physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers and volunteers, all with one mission: to work closely with the patient’s doctor to determine and implement an individualized plan of high-quality care.
How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

There is no set number. One of the first things a hospice team will do is prepare an individualized care plan that will address the amount of care a patient needs. This will help to determine what caregivers are needed.

Hospice staff will visit regularly and are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions and provide support.

Hospice staff work hard to prepare and assist families by providing education on what to expect, support and visits during stressful times.

Does someone have to be with the patient at all times?

In the early stages of care, it is usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient at all times. However, since one of the most common fears of the patients is the fear of dying alone, Hospice recommends someone be there continuously in the later stages.

While family and friends must be relied on to give most of the care, hospices do provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for caregivers.

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice care does not speed up or slow down death; it affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.

Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of childbirth, so hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?


If improvement in the condition occurs and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice and return to routine medical treatment.


What does the hospice admission process involve?

The first thing staff will do is present information to the family. If hospice services are then requested, we will obtain a physician's order.

The patient will be asked to sign forms.

One of the forms is a "Hospice Election" form that states the patient and family understand the care is palliative - aimed at pain relief and symptom control rather than curative. It also outlines the services available.

What is the process to start hospice care?

A referral for hospice can come from anyone.

Our team will consult with you and your physician to determine if hospice is right for you. If so, and if you and your physician agree, our team will help with all the necessary arrangements.

Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice or should I raise the issue first?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice at any time with their physician, other health care providers, clergy or friends. The decision belongs to the patient.

Unfortunately, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping efforts to "beat" their disease when transitioning from curative to comfort care.

Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them with the patient, family and physician.

Billing & Insurance

How is hospice financed?

Hospice coverage is provided 100 percent by Medicare and Medicaid with no co-pay. Most private health insurance plans have Hospice coverage, but it may vary.

To confirm coverage, please check with your employer or health insurance provider.

If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be additional expenses?

Medicare covers all services and supplies related to the terminal illness for the hospice patient. In general, Medicare coverage includes:

  • Physician services related to hospice diagnosis
  • Nursing care
  • Medical supplies as appropriate
  • Drugs for symptom management and pain relief
  • Short-term inpatient and respite care
  • Home Health Aide
  • Physical and other therapies
  • Counseling
  • Bereavement services
  • Volunteers
  • Pastoral care
  • Social workers
If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will you provide care?

The first thing hospice will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of.

Barring this, OSF Hospice will provide care for those who cannot pay, using money raised from the community, memorial and OSF Foundation gifts, or through our financial assistance program.


Does hospice provide around the clock care?

Hospice care is based on scheduled visits during the day but 24-hour support and care are available.

Hospice social workers can help arrange for a 24-hour nurse if medically necessary or the patient can stay at a nursing or hospice facility.

How does OSF Hospice manage pain?

Pain is the number one fear of the dying person. OSF nurses who are specialized in pain and symptom management work closely with the physician and patient, using the latest medications and treatments for pain and symptom relief.

Patients are reassessed frequently to make sure that they are comfortable.  Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain so these are addressed as well.

Counselors and clergy are available to assist patients and their family members.

Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?

OSF Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for up to 13 months following the death of a loved one.

OSF Hospice also sponsors bereavement and support groups for anyone in the community who has experienced the death of a family member, friend, or loved one.