• Our FAQs

Hospice of Missoula is your expert and advocate for hospice, palliative care, and end of life questions.

+ Is hospice a place?

No. Hospice care usually takes place in the comfort of an individual's home, but can be provided in any environment in which a person lives, including a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital or residential care facility.

+ Does hospice mean someone is dying very soon?

Not necessarily.  Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope or that death is imminent. Hospice is designed to help patients live their life thoughtfully at the end of life incorporating mind, body, and spirit.  This process when done to the fullest, takes time.  The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to decrease symptoms, incorporate loved ones, and address other personal and spiritual needs.

+ Can people only receive hospice care for a limited amount of time?

Luckily, no.  The Medicare benefit, Medicaid benefit when appropriate, and most private insurances, pay for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meet the necessary criteria. Medicare determines these criteria, and all hospices must abide by these “rules” in order to be reimbursed for the care they provide.  Patients may come on and off hospice care, and re-enroll in hospice care, as needed.  It is a flexible system designed to address the needs of the patient and family.

+ Can hospice provide 24 hour care?

No, and on occasion yes – temporarily.  The hospice team (which includes nurses, social workers, home health aides, volunteers, chaplains, massage therapists, music thanatologists, and bereavement counselors) visits patients on a scheduled care schedule, and is available 24hours a day/7 days a week for support and care. 

Hospice of Missoula is also able to provide "continuous care," when patient symptoms or psychosocial needs require temporary 24hour clinical care.  Continuous care is designed as crisis intervention with an end goal in sight where the family or appropriate caregiver can again resume the role of 24hour care.  Continuous care can last from 8 hours to weeks depending on the needs of the patient and family.

+ Are all hospice programs the same?

Yes and no. All licensed hospice programs must provide certain services, but the range of support services and programs may differ. In addition, hospice programs and operating styles may vary from organization to organization.  Like other medical care providers, care models can also differ.  We encourage you to interview hospices in your area to find an organization that is a good fit for you.  Some valuable questions may be.

Is your team fully dedicated to hospice care only?

What is your nurse to patient ratio?  Counselor to patient ratio?

What is your care model?  How do you decide where you delegate your resources?

What is your response time when we call for help?

How do you work with other organizations in our community?

If you would like more information on interviewing hospices, feel free to contact our office.  Hospice of Missoula has an interview worksheet available to you here.

+ Does a physician decide whether a patient is ready for hospice?

Not always.  The role of the physician is to recommend care, whether hospice or traditional curative care.  With this in mind, it is the patient's right (or in some cases the right of the person who holds power of attorney) and decision to determine when hospice may be appropriate, and which program suits his or her needs.  Often patients and their families request a hospice informational visit to gather knowledge to fully assess whether they feel hospice is appropriate.  Before entering a hospice, however, a physician must certify that a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a life expectancy of six months or less.

+ Who Pays for Hospice?

Hospice care is a 100% covered benefit under Medicare, Medicaid and most private pay insurances.

We can verify coverage for the family and can assist with the Medicaid application process if necessary.

Arrangements will be made for those in need of assistance using Hospice of Missoula’s charitable care and by uniting with local community-based organizations who share our dedication to hospice care. No patient will be turned away based on their ability to pay for hospice services.