The area's only local non-profit hospice Since 1981
(208) 772-7994
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Frequently Asked Questions

The philosophy behind hospice is about living life as fully as possible and providing support for loved ones. While the loss of a loved one will no doubt be sad and difficult for those left behind, this journey does not have to be one of fear or pain. Let us answer your questions, starting with those we hear asked most frequently. Don’t see your question here? Give us a call at (208)772-7994, or contact us here.

When should I ask questions about hospice and end-of-life planning?
When is it time for hospice care?
How do I begin hospice care?
Is hospice giving up?
Who benefits from hospice care?
Who will be on my hospice team?
What kind of illnesses does hospice cover? Is it only for cancer patients?
How do I pay for hospice care?
Are there differences between hospices? What are they?
What if I live in a long-term care facility or nursing facility? Can I still receive hospice care?
Is Hospice of North Idaho available around the clock?
Does hospice mean I’m going to die sooner?
Do I have to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) prior to admission to Hospice of North Idaho?
What is the service area for Hospice of North Idaho?
Can a hospice patient continue with his or her own physician?
My doctor recommended another hospice. Do I have to use that hospice?
What if I need more care than can be provided at home? Where will I go?
What is the Hospice House?
Is Hospice House for Hospice of North Idaho patients only?
What is hospice volunteer and what do they do?
Are Hospice of North Idaho’s volunteers specially trained?

When should I ask questions about hospice and end-of-life planning?
The answer is a resounding now. Now is the best time to learn more about hospice and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services. Along with this, now is also the best time to have conversations with loved ones about end-of-life planning and wishes. Although difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed. By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations. Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones. For more information on end-of-life planning, click here, or visit www.theconversationproject.org.
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When is it time for hospice?
Hospice is designed to provide care during the last six months of a life-limiting condition. While many wait too long and don’t seek hospice services until a crisis occurs or symptoms become very difficult to manage, hospice care has the greatest impact when it is implemented as early as possible. We understand that it is very difficult to let go of the hope for a cure, but more time on hospice services means more time to live fully and explore the emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of life. For more information about when it’s time for hospice, click here.
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How do I begin hospice care?
Hospice admission usually begins with a formal referral to Hospice of North Idaho from the patient’s primary care provider. Within 24 hours (though usually much sooner) an admission nurse will schedule a time to meet with the patient and family members. During this initial meeting, a social worker and nurse will conduct a needs assessment and determine the goals of the patient. Hospice care is ready to begin immediately following the visit, though it may depend on the urgency of the situation. Another option is to have a patient or family member call Hospice of North Idaho directly to determine hospice eligibility, and we will contact the necessary providers to get the information we need.
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 Does accepting hospice care mean we’re giving up?
At Hospice of North Idaho, we don’t believe that giving up on a cure means giving up on life. In fact, the role of the interdisciplinary team assigned to the patient is to evaluate the needs and goals of the individual and examine the entire picture so that they can live as fully as possible. This focused effort actually improves quality of life and in some cases may extend life or even result in a patient being discharged from hospice care. Also, many patients choose to focus on healing relationships with friends or family or their spirituality or a renewed commitment to faith. This makes time on hospice incredibly special, and can result in a rich life full of healing and end-of-life development!
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Who benefits from hospice care?
Hospice is family-centered care that has benefits for the patient and the family. With Hospice of North Idaho’s services, the patient can expect to not only receive expert care in pain and symptom management, but also have their emotional, spiritual, and practical needs attended to as well. Families also receive support, and work with one of our social workers to identify what areas they need support in. Our grief counselors will work with families to determine the needs of those left behind, whether it’s an aging widow or young child. Hospice of North Idaho provides a minimum of 13 months of bereavement care, and has a variety of support groups for adults and children. Since 1986, Hospice of North Idaho has been providing grief counseling and support groups to everyone in the community at no charge. Hospice of North Idaho also offers respite services for family members or caregivers who need a break or have travel plans. Hospice House, Idaho’s only inpatient hospice facility provides patients will a comfortable stay for five days for caregivers can get the respite they need.
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Who will be on my hospice team?
At Hospice of North Idaho, each patient has a hospice care team that is made of registered nurses, social workers, hospice aides, board certified physicians, and a spiritual chaplain. Together, this team, along with the patient and family, come up with a care plan with the needs and goals of the patient in mind. Patients also have access to hospice volunteers, pets from our pet therapy program, and other specialized volunteers, such as massage therapists. These individuals, if requested, provide additional support and companionship to hospice patients. The frequency of volunteer and spiritual care visits are often determined by the family’s requests and availability.
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What kind of illnesses does hospice cover? Is it only for cancer patients?
The admission criteria for hospice care state that patients need to have a life-limiting condition with a six month or less prognosis. At Hospice of North Idaho, less than 50% of our hospice patients have a cancer diagnosis. Heart disease, lung disease, dementia, CVA/strokes, neuromuscular disease, HIV/AIDS and debility are other examples of hospice diagnoses.
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How do I pay for hospice care?
Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare and requires little, if any, out of pocket expenses. Many insurance companies also have a hospice benefit. For those who lack Medicare or private insurance, we never turn away any hospice appropriate patient. As the community’s non-profit hospice, we believe that everyone deserves to die with dignity; it is our mission to ensure that no one will ever be denied services, even if they lack the ability to pay.
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Does the hospice program pay for medications and medical equipment?
Yes, all medication and medical equipment related to hospice care are covered when you enroll in hospice. Included in this are medications that treat the life-limiting illness, pain medications, hospital beds, walkers, and oxygen. As a non-profit hospice with a mission to serve everyone in need, Hospice of North Idaho will ensure that those who lack a pay source have the medications and equipment needed.
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How will Hospice of North Idaho keep me comfortable?
We are the experts in pain and symptom management. Our clinical staff receives specialized training in hospice and palliative care. Medical Directors, Dr. Robert Ancker, MD and Dr. Shana Fogarty, MD are family practice physicians who are Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine, which means they have achieved a high level of expertise in pain and symptom management. While not all patients experience pain or discomfort at the end of life, many will as their condition progresses. The hospice team works together to manage symptoms, keeping the goals of the patient in mind. The team frequently reviews the patient’s plan of care and makes changes as needed.
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Can I receive hospice care if I live in a long-term care facility or nursing facility?
Yes. Hospice of North Idaho provides services in whatever setting a person considers to be their “home”, including a nursing or long-term care facility. Hospice nurses, hospice aides, social workers, physicians and even volunteers will make visits to a patient’s facility to provide hospice care. Hospice of North Idaho has written agreements with most facilities in our area that allow us to provide care there in addition to the care and services provided by the facility.
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Are there differences between hospices? What are they?
Hospices are not all the same; in fact they can be quite different! Some are for-profit, non-profit (like Hospice of North Idaho), hospital-based, home health-based or independent. Different hospices have different levels of expertise, philosophies of care, depth of services and approaches to patient and family care. Hospice of North Idaho, the only local non-profit hospice in North Idaho, directs all of its resources to ensure that members of the community will live as fully as possible at the end of life, sparing the seriously ill and their families an all too common fate: dying in pain and without access to social support or spiritual counsel. Hospice of North Idaho is the longest established hospice in the area, with highly trained and experienced staff, and offers special support for families. For more information about how we are different, click here.
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Is Hospice of North Idaho available around the clock?
Yes. While our main office hours are 8am -5pm, Monday through Friday, hospice care is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, simply by calling the main number at (208)772-7994. There are always registered nurses available to respond to patient needs and make visits if necessary. Patients at the Hospice House have access to around the clock care and support.
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Does hospice mean I’m going to die sooner?
Hospice does not hasten or prevent death. Hospice staff specializes in managing pain and symptoms so the patient can enjoy their life with their loved ones. One study indicates that Hospice care is linked to longer patient survival. Also, if a patient stabilizes under hospice care and no longer meets hospice criteria, the patient can be discharged or moved to Hospice of North Idaho’s palliative care program.
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Do I have to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) prior to admission to Hospice of North Idaho?
Although many hospice patients choose to sign a DNR, Hospice of North Idaho does not require it for admission. For more on advance directives, click here.
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What is the service area for Hospice of North Idaho?
Hospice covers three of the northern Idaho panhandle counties, Kootenai, Shoshone, and Benewah. This is approximately a 50-mile radius.
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Can a hospice patient continue with his or her own physician?
Yes. The Hospice medical director will review the Hospice plan of care and is available to consult with the primary physician if needed. Hospice nurses will work with the patient’s doctor on all aspects of care.
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My doctor recommended another hospice. Do I have to use that hospice?
You always have a choice about what hospice you choose to provide services to you or your loved one. Physicians can make a recommendation to you, but ultimately it is your choice. For resources on how to choose a hospice, visit our page for a list of questions created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. You will also find our answers to these questions. If a physician insists that you must use a certain hospice, you can make a complaint here.
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What if I need more care than can be provided at home? Where will I go?
Hospice of North Idaho is proud to offer our patients the option of using Idaho’s only inpatient hospice facility, Hospice House should they become unable to stay at their home. At Hospice House, we can provide around the clock intensive hospice care to patients and provide a comfortable stay for loved ones. Care at Hospice House is covered by your Medicare benefit and most private insurances. As a non-profit, we will provide stays at the Hospice House, if needed for those who lack a pay source.
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What is the Hospice House?
Since opening in 2011, Hospice House has become a very important resource in our community. As Idaho’s only inpatient hospice facility, Hospice House provides a place for our patients to stay when their symptoms become difficult to manage. These symptoms may include pain, dementia, delirium, breathlessness, and other conditions that require more intensive medical interventions than can be provided in the home. Hospice House is a homelike environment where the full complement of Hospice of North Idaho’s comfort-oriented care is available around the clock to the patient and loved ones. These services include expert pain and symptom management, nursing care, assistance with the tasks of daily living (feeding, baths in our spa tub, etc.), friendly visiting by volunteers, spiritual and psycho-social counseling for patients and their loved ones, and bereavement counseling for family members. For more information, visit the Hospice House page.
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Is Hospice House for Hospice of North Idaho patients only?
Yes, Hospice House is only for the patients of Hospice of North Idaho. Hospice House was built by Hospice of North Idaho and was made possible only through the generosity of the community.
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What is hospice volunteer and what do they do?
A hospice volunteer provides support to patients and their family in a variety of ways. They can be companions to a patient, giving them friendship, support, and a listening ear. They run errands, play games, read books, prepare meals, and give caregivers a break when needed. Hospice of North Idaho has over 100 volunteers that help provide support to our patients and their loved ones; in 2012 volunteers provided over 30,000 hours of support.
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Are Hospice of North Idaho’s volunteers specially trained?
Yes. We believe we have the most comprehensive training for volunteers available. Hospice of North conducts interviews with potential volunteers before enrolling them in our training program. Hospice of North Idaho’s training covers a wide array of topics and calls upon experts to teach these subjects. Topics covered in this week-long session include understanding hospice, grief and loss, family dynamics, confidentiality, working with hospice patients, signs of approaching death, and much more. Once completed, our Director of Volunteer Services works to pair volunteers with hospice patients that would be well suited.
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