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Blog: Stories and Insight

How Long Can You Stay in Hospice?

As you navigate hospice and palliative care, planning around an uncertain future may seem overwhelming. You may wonder, what will hospice care in South Jersey be like, how long can you live in hospice care, can I even recover in hospice care? The questions are many, and the answer is different for every patient. The bottom line is: You can continue to stay in hospice care as long as you meet the criteria. Read on to learn more.

What is hospice?

 Before exploring how long a patient can live on hospice, let’s first define hospice.

Hospice care is a philosophy of care, not a place. Although some healthcare facilities do exclusively offer hospice services, hospice care is also frequently administered in the patient’s home.

Patients are referred to hospice when it is determined they have six months, assuming their illness follows its natural course, and  they are no longer responding to, or taking part, in a curative treatment.

Hospice provides comfort, support, and dignity, and focuses on you as a whole person, not just the illness. Hospice care addresses your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.

How long can you live in hospice care?

Hospice care is generally given to patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live – so what happens if you need hospice care for longer? How long can you live in hospice care?

There is no simple answer, but the end of a hospice benefits cycle is nothing to fear: Hospice care teams carefully monitor your health and can renew hospice services if you continue to need them.

Most hospice care is given in benefit periods: South Jersey hospice providers like Samaritan provide benefits for three months (90 days), re-certify that a patient is terminally ill and in need of hospice care, then provide another three months (90 days) of care.

After that, with the approval of the hospice care team, patients may opt to extend their benefits. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the two 90-day benefit periods are followed by an unlimited number of 60-day benefit periods, as long as your attending physician and/or the hospice physician re-certifies you as terminally ill with each cycle. In essence, a patient can stay in hospice as long as needed.

Your hospice team takes care of this re-certification process seamlessly so you do not experience a pause or gap in your care.

While recovery is not the normal outcome nor the goal of hospice care, patients do occasionally improve while receiving hospice care, and they may be discharged after careful consultation between the members of their hospice care team.

Is  Hospice Care Right for You? Call 24/7 to Find Out: (800) 229-8183

Can I be re-admitted to hospice care?

If you are discharged from hospice care but the time comes when you have need of hospice care again, you can always be readmitted to a hospice care program. Hospice is an insurance benefit that belongs to you.

And while the choice to utilize hospice and palliative care is a personal one, studies show that many people should choose hospice sooner. If you wait until the final weeks or even days of your life, you do not get to experience the full benefit of what hospice care in South Jersey offers.

In 2020, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) released data that found that 53.8% of Medicare beneficiaries received hospice care for 30 days or less, while only “a quarter (27.9%) of beneficiaries received care for seven days or less, which is considered too short a period for patients to fully benefit from the person-centered care available from hospice.”

Many families say they wished they called hospice sooner.

If you have previously utilized hospice services and think that you may need to be re-admitted, talk with your physician or call Samaritan today. 

If you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness in South Jersey, or you have questions such as “How long can you stay in a hospice,” please contact Samaritan to learn how we can help. Call us 24/7 at (800) 229-8183.