Frequently Asked Questions

Where Do I Start?

Do I have to go to a hospital or facility to receive hospice care?

Hospice care usually takes place in whatever setting an individual calls home. This includes private homes, long-term care facilities and assisted living communities. Care Dimensions also has the unique ability to offer our patients and families care at the Kaplan Family Hospice House when additional help with symptom management is needed.

Does being referred for hospice mean the patient will soon die?
Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope or that death is imminent. The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize a patient's medical condition and address their needs, so they can make the most of every day.
Isn't hospice only for cancer patients?
Today’s hospice patients also included those with congestive heart failure, COPD, Alzheimer's/dementia, renal failure, chronic lung disease and numerous other diagnoses as well.
Are patients limited to the amount of time on hospice care?
The Medicare benefit, and most private insurance, pays for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meets the necessary criteria. Patients may come on and off hospice care, and re-enroll in hospice care, as needed.
Are all hospice programs the same?
All licensed hospice programs must provide certain services, but the range of support services and programs can vary widely. Some programs are not-for-profit and some hospices are for-profit.  Care Dimensions is a nonprofit organization and the largest and most comprehensive  hospice provider in Massachusetts. Palliative Care, the Kaplan Family Hospice House and the Bertolon Center for Grief and Healing are all Care Dimensions programs. Care Dimensions also offers an extensive array of complementary therapies including Reiki, patient and caregiver massage, art and music therapy, and even pet therapy.
Is hospice just for the patient?
Hospice focuses on comfort, dignity, and emotional support. The quality of life for the patient and all caregivers is of high priority. The supportive care given relieves some of the burden for many family caregivers (i.e., medications and equipment management) and provides emotional, spiritual and grief support for all.
Is hospice care covered by insurance? Is it difficult for many patients to afford hospice services?
Insurance coverage for hospice is available through Medicare and Medicaid along with many private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations.  In addition, once on their hospice benefit, many patients’ expenses are substantially reduced due to savings on prescription medications and medical equipment as long as they are related to the patient’s terminal diagnosis.  In fact, no co-pay is required for medications required to treat a hospice patient’s terminal diagnosis. 
Does a patient need to be homebound to be eligible for hospice care?
Hospice care is appropriate at the time of the terminal prognosis, regardless of the patient’s physical condition. However, to be eligible for the Medicare home care benefit (VNA), it is required that patients be homebound. Many of the patients served through hospice are even able to travel for special events if they feel well enough.
Are patients eligible to receive hospice care through Medicare and other insurances after six months of care?

According to most Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance hospice benefit programs, hospice services may be provided to terminally ill beneficiaries with a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease runs its normal course. However, if the patient lives beyond the initial six month time period, he or she can continue receiving hospice care with an unlimited number of sixty day re-certification periods.

Will I still be cared for by my own doctor?
Hospices work closely with the primary physician and specialists and consider the continuation of the patient-physician relationship to be of the highest priority. We communicate frequently and update physicians on patients' conditions.
If I elect hospice care, can I return to traditional medical treatment?
Patients always have the right to reinstate curative care at any time, for any reason. If a patient’s condition improves or the disease goes into remission, he or she can be discharged from a hospice and return to aggressive, curative measures, if so desired. If a discharged patient wants to return to hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies and HMOs will allow readmission.
Does electing hospice mean I'm giving up hope?
When faced with a terminal illness, many patients and family members tend to dwell on the imminent loss of life rather than on making the most of the life that remains. Hospice helps patients reclaim the spirit of life and reframe hope. There's now hope for comfort, special moments together and making the most of every day. It helps them understand that even though death can lead to sadness, anger, and pain, it can also lead to opportunities for reminiscence, laughter, reunion, and love.

Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.