Whenever we face loss, we experience grief. The responses we have are very unique and individual, and each of us will need time to adjust and to deal with the many emotions that will be a part of the healing process.
Baystate Hospice believes the care of our patients also includes the care of the family. Before, during, and after a loved one’s death, hospice bereavement services are an important support system that assists patients, families and caregivers with respected grief.
Families and caregivers are provided with a continuum of care through a supportive bereavement program that continues for 13 months after the loss of a loved one. As you are grieving you may experience many difficult feelings and changes; you are not alone.
Included in the Baystate Hospice program are ongoing services and programs to support you and your family after the loss of a loved one, including:
- Bi-annual memorial service celebrating the lives of our patients
- Monthly newsletters
- Personal one-on-one support in the home setting
- Programs for adults, teens, and children
- Sudden loss intervention
- Support groups and grief education sessions
- Supportive programs open to the community
To learn more about Baystate Hospice bereavement services, call or email Sydney Gozzi at 413-794-6559.
The Baystate Hospice team is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Patients may receive care wherever they live: in their home, retirement community, group home, assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility, hospital, or other setting. All members of the hospice team are specialized in end of life care and play vital roles in the patient and family experience.
The Patient and Family
The hospice care team begins with the patient and family. As a loved one moves through the hospice journey, the family and hospice team will certainly face various ups and downs along the way. By learning how to stay involved and express your compassion, those closest to the patient can make the journey as smooth as possible for their loved ones.
Hospice Registered Nurses
Hospice nurses are certified and offer specialized knowledge and experience in the management of pain and other distressing symptoms. A nurse is always a phone call away to address any needs of the patient or caregivers.
Dr. Maura Brennan, chief of Baystate’s Geriatrics & Post-Acute Medicine Division, is nationally certified and serves as Hospice Medical Director for the Baystate Hospice program. She meets regularly with the rest of the hospice team to review each patient’s plan of care, including medications.
Medical Social Workers
Medical social workers address the social and emotional needs of patients on issues relating to their illness. The medical social worker provides help with financial, social, and emotional concerns. Social workers also help identify available state and local resources and can offer counseling and coordination of community support.
Spiritual counselors support the patient and family’s personal beliefs and traditions, regardless of religious affiliation.
Hospice aides assist with bathing and other personal care needs, as well as helping the patient with any activity or exercise needs. They may also attend to light household chores such as making beds, preparing meals, and doing laundry, as well as other tasks as assigned by the nurse.
Our Baystate Hospice volunteers offer a compassionate and caring presence to the patients, family, and caregivers. They can provide respite for a family member or caregiver, foster friendships and perform a variety of tasks such as light household chores and running errands.
Volunteers are also instrumental in organizational and administrative work that supports the overall hospice program. Learn more about our volunteers.
Baystate Hospice administrative staff consists of a wide range of highly skilled professionals who are responsible for the organizational management and programmatic support of hospice. Our knowledgeable staff is committed to ensuring hospice services are implemented in an environment of compliance, quality and excellence.
Hospice care is for those patients with a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease process runs its normal course. The earlier care begins, the greater the benefits are for the patient and their entire family.
People often say, “I thought hospice was for people who are dying in a few days.” This is a common misconception. Admission to Baystate Hospice can begin when aggressive or curative treatments are stopped, refused, or deemed inappropriate for the current stage of the patient’s illness.
Admission to the hospice program is appropriate when there is a desire for comfort care and emotional and spiritual support in the patients’ home setting, wherever that may be.
Hospice is a program designed to offer comfort as the patient lives with a terminal illness such as:
- ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia related diseases
- Heart disease
- Kidney/renal disease
- Liver disease
- Lung/pulmonary disease
- Neurological disease
Who pays for hospice care?
Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare and Medicaid and many other types of health plans, including health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs), and other private insurance.
In most cases 100% of our services are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Private insurance and HMO policies may vary in coverage. If you have questions regarding coverage our intake staff can help you determine what coverage is available to you.
What services are covered?
- Regular home visits and support from your hospice care team.
- Home medical equipment such as a hospital bed, oxygen, bedside commode, or wheelchairs if needed. Medical equipment is arranged and delivered right to your home.
- Medications for pain and symptom control. Medications related to your terminal diagnosis may be covered and delivered right to your home.
Who can refer someone to hospice?
Referrals are accepted from the patient’s primary physician, hospital, long-term care or assisted- living facility, the patient, a family member, clergy, friend or other referring sources.
When can hospice care start?
An informational visit by a hospice staff member can be made within 24 hours of a referral. Admission is coordinated with the patient, primary physician, family, and hospice team.
Where is care provided?
Hospice care may be provided in the patient’s home, long-term care facility, skilled nursing facility, or in an assisted living facility – basically anywhere the patient lives.
Do I give up my rights to see a doctor while on the hospice program?
When you become a patient with us it will not prevent you from seeing your doctor regardless of what type of coverage you have. Your doctor visit will be billed separately from the hospice services. If you wish and are able to visit your doctor, we will work with your doctor to provide you with optimum care.
Can I still go to the hospital?
Yes, you maintain the right to go to the hospital. In most cases it is not necessary. However, if it is required, we ask the caregiver to call hospice immediately. There is the possibility that your status in the hospice program will change as some treatments or procedures may not be covered under the hospice program. The hospice team will work with the patient and caregiver to determine the appropriate steps regarding the plan of care.
Can I return to the hospice program if I have been discharged from the hospital?
Yes, if you meet the criteria for the hospice program. The procedure for readmission to the hospice program is very simple.
Can I receive hospice services if I want to continue my treatment?
The Palliative Care program may be better suited for your needs. Palliative care patients may still seek curative treatment for their chronic illness, while receiving services to address their symptoms and comfort.
Hospice is a set of services for terminally ill patients and their families. Hospice should not be considered as a last resort or giving up. It focuses on pain and symptom management with compassionate care to help the patient live as fully as ever. Hospice supports the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient as well as the whole family. Families continue to receive bereavement support for over a year after the patient's death.
Who May Be Appropriate for Hospice?
Patients may be appropriate for hospice if they have an illness where the life expectancy is approximately six months or less if the disease progresses its natural course. The patient may have cancer or another end-stage chronic disease, such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, liver, renal, neuromuscular or Alzheimer's. Patients are appropriate candidates for hospice when:
- Their illness no longer responds to aggressive, cure-oriented treatment.
- There is a need for continuing pain and symptom relief.
- The patient and family may require continuing emotional and spiritual support.
Hospice Care Admission Criteria
To be eligible, patients must be diagnosed with a terminal illness and be aware that they have a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease runs its natural course.
In addition to cancer patients, any patient with an end-stage disease may be appropriate for hospice care. Consult Hospice Referral Indicators for Non-Cancer Diagnoses.
When Is it Appropriate to Refer a Patient to Hospice?
Patients who qualify for hospice are often referred too late, if at all. Referrals made when the patient has months rather than weeks or days left provide the most benefit.
Providing information about hospice early:
- Allows the patient to make an informed decision and helps to shape the final phase of life based on personal wishes, goals and beliefs.
- Gives the patient a choice and sense of control before the illness is in medical crisis.
- Allows caregivers to address symptom management to before the illness reaches crisis proportions.
- Allows time to address the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient and the family, giving them time to come to terms with dying.
Initiating discussions early in the progression of the disease will give patients time to determine the services that they want at the end of life. Patients with a prognosis of less than one year should be educated about the hospice option, even if there is a "hope for the best" approach, so they know their options and can be prepared.
For more information, to make a referral or for a consultation to see if a patient is appropriate for hospice, call 800-249-8298 and press Option 2.