About Hospice Care

This information describes what hospice care is and how it may help you and your caregivers.

What is hospice care?

Hospice is care for people near the end of their life. Hospice care is given by a team, including a doctor, nurse, home health aide, social worker, and spiritual counselor. This team focuses on the way you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you choose to receive hospice care, your MSK cancer team and your hospice team will work together to care for you.

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When should I consider hospice care?

You may choose to receive hospice care if you don’t want to continue with cancer treatment or after you’ve received all the treatment that’s available. Your cancer care team may talk with you about hospice when they feel that cancer treatment is not working any longer or if the burdens of cancer treatment outweigh the benefits. At some point, many patients and caregivers consider hospice as part of their care plan.

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What will happen if I choose to receive hospice care?

  • Every effort will be made to take care of you in your home, surrounded by family and loved ones.
  • Your medical care will be managed by your hospice doctor, but you can still see your primary cancer doctor (oncologist) or palliative medicine doctor.
  • Your hospice team will be available for you and your family by telephone 24 hours a day.
  • Your hospice nurse will provide nursing care.
  • Your hospice team will manage your pain and other symptoms.
  • You will get help from a home health aid.
  • Your hospice team will make sure you get the medications you need.
  • Your hospice team will make sure you get the medical equipment and supplies you need.
  • Your hospice team will provide emotional support and spiritual counseling for you and your caregivers.
  • If you become too sick to be cared for at home, the hospice will arrange for care at an affiliated hospital or inpatient hospice service.
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How will my cancer care change if I choose to receive hospice care?

  • You will not receive treatment to try to cure your cancer.
  • You will not have certain tests or procedures related to your cancer.
  • While you will not be admitted to the hospital for cancer treatment, there could be times when you are admitted for symptom management that cannot be provided at home. Your hospice team will do everything they can to keep you comfortable throughout your time in hospice, no matter what setting.
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If I receive hospice care, can I still receive treatment for other health problems?

If you are on Medicare and decide to have hospice care, Medicare will not pay for treatment that tries to cure your cancer. However, Medicare will still pay for your other treatments. For example, if you receive hospice care because you have liver cancer, Medicare will not pay for treatment to cure the cancer, but it will still pay for care for other health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

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Where can I receive hospice care?

Hospice care is usually provided at home with a family member or close friend serving as the primary caregiver. Hospice care is also available in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice centers.

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Who pays for hospice care?

Medicare, Medicaid, and most commercial health insurance policies pay for hospice services. Our nurse case managers can help you with insurance authorization and referrals.

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How can I learn more about hospice?

Talk with a member of your healthcare team to learn more about hospice care.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Provides information about hospice care.

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