What hospice does
Hospice is a program of high-quality, compassionate care that helps patients and families live as fully as possible. Hospice care is based on the belief that each of us has the right to live free of pain and with dignity, and that our loved ones deserve the support to allow us to do so. We provide hospice care services to patients and families throughout the Philadelphia region. We also have a special hospice program for veterans.
For immediate service, please call 1.888.533.3999 between 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Monday through Friday, or 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and holidays. You can also submit an online referral at any time or email us for more information.
Services that are covered under the Medicare and Medicaid Hospice Benefit and by most other insurance plans include:
- Visits by the hospice team members and volunteers
- 24-hour, seven-day availability to address questions or concerns
- Interdisciplinary team coordination of your plan of care
- Management of pain and other symptoms
- Support and counseling regarding emotional, psychological and spiritual needs
- Teaching family members skills to provide necessary care
- Dietary counseling
- Medical Equipment and supplies related to the management of the life limiting illness. Equipment and supplies must be provided through companies contracted with Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice. Payment for equipment or supplies obtained from other companies will be your responsibility.
- Medications and biologicals related to the life limiting illness and secondary conditions. Medications must be provided by our hospice contracted pharmacy or under arrangement with a local pharmacy. Payment for hospice covered medications obtained from other pharmacies will be your responsibility.
- Short-term, in-patient symptom management
- Respite care at collaborating long-term care facilities
When to get hospice care
Hospice care is appropriate for any adult whose advanced illness is no longer responding to curable treatment. This type of care focuses on providing patients and families with relief from the symptoms and stresses of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. Many patients considering hospice care have decided they want to spend their last months at home, or in a home-like setting such as a life-care community or nursing facility. The four levels of hospice care are:
Frequently asked questions
There are many misconceptions about hospice. Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions you might have about hospice services. Please get in touch with us if you have additional questions.
Hospice involves a team approach and a care plan that includes emotional, spiritual and practical support, and is based on the needs and wishes of the patient and family. Hospice care includes communication and collaboration between:
- Your primary care doctor – remains involved in your care and becomes a part of the hospice team
- Hospice medical director – works with your doctor and the hospice team to ensure overall quality patient care
- Hospice nurse – makes regularly scheduled visits to assess and manage physical symptoms and teach proper care techniques to primary caregivers; also discusses your care with primary care doctor and alters plan of care as needed
- Home health aide – assists in your physical care as needed (determined on a case-by-case basis)
- Social worker – provides counseling and support for patients and family members, and helps families explore additional caregiving options and community resources
- Chaplain – provides nondenominational spiritual support and can act as a link to religious organizations that may be helpful to the family
- Volunteers – offer a variety of support services from providing companionship for patients and caregivers to shopping and running errands
- Bereavement counselor – offers support for up to one year for family members dealing with the sensitive issues of grief and loss; children's bereavement services also available for ages three to 24
- Other services – may be provided as needed, such as nutritional support and physical, occupational and speech therapy
We are a Medicare-certified hospice. Medicare offers a special benefit for comprehensive hospice services to manage the symptoms of the patient’s hospice diagnosis. Included in this benefit are the following services:
- Care provided by the hospice team
- Bereavement services
- Medical equipment, such as electrical hospital beds and oxygen
- Medication, such as for pain and symptom management
- Supplies, such as bedside commodes and walkers
Hospice care consists of a wide range of services provided by various caregivers. When you choose Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, you and your family are at the center of the hospice care team.
Our specially trained hospice team members ensure the highest level of expertise when working with you and your physician in developing your individualized plan of care. Staff members undergo extensive and ongoing training that is specially designed to address your hospice care needs. In addition, many of our staff are certified in specialty areas. All professional staff—registered nurses; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; social workers; and pastoral counselors—maintain current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.
Because our agency works with local universities and colleges, you may also meet students who are studying nursing, therapy, social worker and nutrition.
Your physician prescribes the care, medication and special equipment necessary to promote comfort and quality of life. Your physician certifies that you are eligible to receive hospice services, directs your plan of care, and receives updates from the hospice team on a regular basis.
Hospice medical director
The hospice medical director oversees the medical services provided to each hospice client and works in collaboration with your physician to ensure the best possible management of pain or other symptoms. He or she is available as a resource to the hospice team and your attending physician. The medical director also certifies that you are eligible for hospice care and works with the hospice team in the development of your care plan.
Hospice nurses coordinate your total care. They provide skilled nursing care and services based on a physician's orders and the needs of you and your family. Hospice nurses specialize in the management and relief of pain and other symptoms. They perform prescribed medical treatments, teach family members and caregivers proven techniques for providing care, and arrange for medical needs such as equipment or prescription medications. A hospice nurse is available to address your questions and needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hospice social workers
Hospice social workers provide emotional support to you and your family. They can also help serve as a guide in decision making related to care preferences and assist in arranging for needed services or other resources. The hospice social worker assesses your needs as well as those of your family, helping to strengthen coping and relieve caregiver stress.
Pastoral counselors provide support to you and your family with full respect for individual values and beliefs. They may also contact community clergy if requested.
Physical therapists provide supportive rehabilitation services, specializing in maximizing mobility and function. Physical therapists may help to provide you with opportunities to live to the maximum of your ability, while also promoting safety in and out of the home. Goals of physical therapy treatments include pain relief, maintenance of activity level, and assisting with decline in function.
Occupational therapists teach individuals with physical, cognitive, and/or visual problems how to regain their activities of daily living to live as independently as possible. The occupational therapist may work with the you and your caregivers to adapt personal routines that have been disrupted by illness.
Speech therapists assist in the areas of communication, cognitive function and swallowing. Speech therapists use specialized techniques to maintain maximum independence in communication and allow for nutritional intake at the most optimal level.
Registered dietitians evaluate special dietary and nutritional needs related to your medical condition. They provide education and counseling about your needs, taking into account your personal preferences as well as religious or other restrictions. If your doctor recommends dietary changes, or if you are undergoing treatment that affects your appetite, your hospice nurse may recommend the services of a registered dietitian.
Home health aides
Home health aides provide personal care services needed to manage your illness. The home health aide follows a plan of care that is written by the Hospice Nurse based on your needs. Examples of care provided include assistance with bathing, dressing and meal preparation. All of our home health aide staff undergo extensive training and are certified in the state of Pennsylvania. Our home health aides also receive ongoing education and training. Although not a requirement, most of our home health aides are also CPR certified.
Volunteers provide support to patients and families in many ways. Volunteers can help by providing friendly visiting and companionship, assisting with errands, sharing hobbies and special interests and providing respite to your caregiver. Hospice volunteers are carefully screened and participate in an extensive hospice training program. In addition, they receive ongoing training and are supervised by our volunteer coordinator.
Bereavement counselors offer grief support for up to a year following loss through phone contact, newsletters, individual sessions, and support groups. Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice also offers specialized grief support for children.
For immediate service, please call 1.888.533.3999 between 8:30 am–6:00 pm, Monday through Friday, or 8:30 am–5:00 pm, Saturday, Sunday and holidays. You can also submit an online referral at any time or email us for more information.
Volunteers serve in many ways. Hospice & Palliative Care of Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice depends on its Volunteers. Hospice Volunteers act as family members, assisting in various areas of patient and family care.
To join our team as a hospice volunteer, contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Michele Whipple at 484.580.1555.
Our hospice volunteers
- Are valued members of the interdisciplinary team
- Listen to the patient's and family's concerns
- Keep the patient company
- Offer support to the patient and family
- Provide a link to the hospice staff
- Run errands for the patient
- Participate in the experiences of the patient and family through the patient's final days
- Make a difference because they enjoy helping those in need
Commitment of time
Hospice relies on its volunteers. Therefore, a commitment of their time is required. After completing the training, we request that our volunteers give at least three hours each week to our patients.
Volunteers are required to complete an initial 22 hours of training.
Training sessions cover the following topics:
- The hospice concept
- Policies and procedures
- Pain control
- Communication and listening skills
- Understanding the basics of diseases and their treatments
- The needs of dying patients and their families
- Hands-on care of the patient
- Spiritual concerns
- Understanding bereavement
- The grief process
- Documentation and referrals
Volunteers may choose to support families through the bereavement period. There are additional classes that focus on this helpful, supportive service. Bereavement support may include telephone or personal contact with bereaved family members.
Who supports the volunteer?
A volunteer coordinator is always available for encouragement and supervision. Peer group meetings are scheduled monthly, where volunteers meet with their colleagues to review cases, talk about issues and support one another.
Benefits of being a volunteer
- Satisfaction – Knowing you make a difference
- Self-knowledge – Better insight into yourself
- Spiritual growth – Supporting another person through the process of dying
- Caring – Focusing on the needs of another
- Emotional maturity – This is a rich, intense experience
- Commitment and dedication
- Respect and support
We now offer our hospice patients a safe, secure, convenient and flexible method of paying their co-pays and bills through our online bill payment feature. Each transaction is encrypted, logged and stored, making it easy to retrieve the transaction information.
Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice accepts many types of health insurance for hospice care payment including traditional Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare or Medicaid Advantage plans, and many other private insurance plans including Blue Cross and other health maintenance or preferred provider organizations (HMO's and PPO's).
When Medicare Part A is billed for hospice services, payment is accepted as payment in full for services provided. There are no deductibles or co-insurance (co-pay) requirements for these services.
Under the Medicare hospice benefit, Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice is responsible to provide or arrange for all medications, DME equipment and infusion therapy that are related to the hospice diagnosis. View our services covered under the Medicare and Medicaid Hospice Benefit and by most other insurance plans.
If services are ordered which are not covered by the Medicare program as the services are not related to the hospice diagnosis, we will notify you in advance so that you can make other financial arrangements for the necessary care.
Medicare Advantage plan converts to Medicare for the hospice benefit. You must notify your nurse or therapist immediately if there is a change in insurance coverage. Pre-authorization of services is required by most managed care and private insurance plans. Payment may be denied by the insurance company for all services provided if authorization is not obtained.
When managed care or private insurances including HMO's and PPO's are billed for services, your hospice benefit is based on a contract between you and your insurance company. You will be responsible for any charges not paid by your insurance company, including but not limited to deductibles, co-insurance (co-pay) amounts, or services provided by out of network providers. These amounts will be billed to you according to your individual insurance plan.
A copy of our fee schedule is available for your review upon request. Fees for hospice services can be adjusted for those who meet Main Line Health Charity Guidelines. Any questions can be directed to our Central Billing Office at 484.580.1424.