Hospice Education


What you need to know about quality of life care

Make a Donation

What Is Hospice?

Hospice offers a wide range of services to support you and your family, friends, and caregivers at no cost to the patient or family.

View this six part video series about Hospice Care produced by NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization)

Understanding Hospice Care

Planning for End of Life

Grief — A Part of Living

When To Begin Hospice Care

Understanding Caregiver Stress

What Services Does Hospice Provide?

A nurse and other team members visit regularly to respond to changing needs. Services available from your hospice team:

  • Nursing Visits (they come to you)
  • Patient Comfort/Pain Management
  • Medical and Social Assessment
  • Support for Caregivers
  • Social Worker Visits
  • Family, Individual, and Group Counseling
  • Spiritual Counseling
  • Hospice Aides
  • Respite Care
  • Grief and Bereavement Support
  • Chaplain Services
  • Medications Related to the Terminal Illness

Who Pays for Hospice?

  • Hospice care is a covered service under Medicare Part A and the Illinois Medicaid benefit.
  • Most insurance companies have hospice benefits. Check your policy or with your local agent to determine the provisions of your policy.
  • Generous financial support from the communities we serve, including memorials and donations from friends, families and corporations, allow Rock River Hospice & Home to provide care to all patients and families for routine hospice care at no cost.

The availability of Medicare/Medicaid or private insurance is not a criterion for admission to Rock River Hospice & Home. Find out more about the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

Hospice Eligibility 

You are Eligible for Hospice when the Following Conditions are Met:

  • Your physician and you agree that if your disease were to run its natural course, you would be expected to live for six months or less.
  • You decide that continued attempts for cure are either futile or undesirable and choose comfort care over curative treatment with the goal of living the rest of life as fully and comfortably as possible.
  • Hospice will work with your physician to verify appropriateness for hospice. Once confirmation is obtained, a nurse and social worker will make an admission visit to discuss details of hospice.
  • Whether your doctor has mentioned it or you’ve come to the conclusion on your own that hospice may be needed, please contact us. We will answer your questions and help assess your current situation. If you are ready for hospice, we will contact your physician and begin the admission process. If the time isn’t right, we can provide information on interim options.

How Does it Work?

Once it is determined that a patient qualifies for hospice care, a specially trained medical team and support staff is available to help them and their family cope with the terminal illness.

The patient’s doctor and the hospice medical team work together with the patient and their family to set up a plan of care that meets the patient’s specific needs.

“Comfort care” measures are employed to help make the patient’s last months of life more peaceful. Comfort care focuses on symptom control and pain management with the goal of increasing the quality of life for the patient and the family.

Nursing care, home health aide services, equipment, and supplies are all provided to make the patient as comfortable and pain free as possible. Social and spiritual counseling are also part of the hospice plan of care.


Who is Involved?

Our goal is to assist patients and their loved ones in effectively coping with the special problems encountered in the final stages of life. Hospice philosophy stresses patient comfort and pain management. We want our patients to have the highest quality of life available to them as defined by their values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices.

While hospice staff and volunteers cannot be with you every minute of the day, they will help family and friends develop a plan to ensure your safety and comfort.

There is an on-call hospice nurse available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and respond to emergencies.

Medical Team

Hospice Medical Director

Hospice Medical Director

The Hospice Medical Director works with your physician and the hospice team to ensure a plan of care that addresses your specific needs and goals with the best hospice care for you.

Hospice Nurse

Hospice Nurse

Your Hospice Nurse works under the direction of the patient’s physician, making visits to the home to assess the patient’s condition and makes changes in the plan of care as indicated. The nurse provides nursing care, education and support for the patient and family.

On-Call Nurse

On-Call Nurse

The on-call nurse responds to calls after hours. Our answering service will take the message and contact the on-call nurse. The after-hours service may be used for a significant change in the patient’s condition, and questions about medications and treatments. During the telephone call, the nurse will assess the situation and either provides telephone support or will make a nursing visit.

Hospice CNA

Hospice CNA

Your Hospice CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is available to assist with personal care activities. The CNA can assist with bathing, dressing, personal care needs and works under the direction of the hospice nurse.
Special Services

Special Services

If appropriate, other service team members may be available such as a dietitian, speech, occupational and physical therapists.

Support Team

Social Worker

Social Services include an assessment by a licensed social worker, assistance with Medicare, Medicaid and insurance forms, as well as help in utilizing community resources. Counseling is available to meet family needs and to assist with legal forms such as living wills and power of attorney.

Bereavement Counselor

The Bereavement Counselor is available to offer grief support to assist the family through the mourning and readjustment process before and following the death of the hospice patient. Grief education and counseling are available through individual, family, and group meetings.


Chaplains are available to offer solace to anyone who finds a need to explore the meaning of his/her faith or belief system.


Volunteers are everyday people who receive specialized training in providing support for the patient and family. This includes such things as shopping, running errands, respite time, or just talking with the patient and family. The Hospice Volunteer Coordinator works with the hospice team to assign a volunteer who matches your situation.

Equipment and Supplies

Medical supplies such as gowns, pads, gloves are available as needed. Medical Equipment such as a bed, oxygen and other equipment is available as needed.

This may include such items as an adjustable bed, shower bench, wheelchair, and other items to keep you comfortable, independent, and safe.

Choosing a Hospice

Depending on where you live there could be one or several hospice organizations serving your community. If there are multiple hospices in your area, you can decide which hospice you want to care for you or your loved one and let your physician know which one you prefer.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organizations has developed some questions to help you identify factors that may be important to you and your family when selecting a hospice.

Dummy Toggle

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Is the Hospice Medicare Certified?
Most hospices are certified by Medicare and are therefore required to follow Medicare rules and regulations. This is important if you wish to receive hospice care as part of your Medicare/Medicaid coverage.
Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal oversight agency in the last five years?
Ask when the last survey was and if any deficiencies were noted and if so, have they been resolved.
Is the organization a NHPCO member and does it comply with all aspects of NHPCO's Standards for Hospice Programs?
Ask if the hospice is a current NHPCO member, if it complies with NHPCO’s Standards and has completed the Standards Self Assessment, and if so, how recently they completed it.
Is the hospice accredited by a national organization?
Several organizations accredit hospices, surveying them to ensure they meet quality standards. Hospices are not required to be accredited but accreditation can be a reflection of it’s commitment to quality.
Does the hospice conduct a family evaluation survey?
Many hospices ask family members to complete a brief evaluation of their services after the death of a loved one. Ask for their most recent scores so you can see how previous patients and family members have rated their services.
Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide home-like care in a hospice residence, hospital or nursing home?
This may be important to you if the care needed is complex and / or family caregivers cannot care for the person at home.
Are clinical Staff (physicians, nurses, social workers) certified or credentialed in hospice and palliative care?
There are several credentials that hospice professionals can achieve based on their knowledge of hospice / palliative care and their educational experience.
What services do volunteers offer, and if requested, how quickly will a volunteer be available?

Volunteers can provide a variety of services including friendly visits, light household chores, running errands, personal care, etc. If you want a hospice volunteer, be sure to ask how quickly one can be assigned and how they match volunteers to meet your needs.

Will staff come to the home if there is a crisis at any time of the day or night and on weekends? Who is available to make the home visit (nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains)?
Hospice staff are available by phone to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, some hospices offer limited in-home support on nights and weekends, while others are able to send staff out to a patient’s home no matter when a crisis arises. Frequently a nurse is the best person to make a visit if it is a medical crisis, however, sometimes the crisis is best handled by a physician, social worker, chaplain or another member of the team. Ask if all members of the team are available in a crisis situation during nights and weekends.
If I need to go to a hospital or nursing home which ones does / doesn't the hospice work with?
If you have a preferred hospital or know that you may need to go to a nursing home, it’s important to find out which ones the hospice has contracts with so they can continue to provide your hospice services in this different setting.
What "extra" services does the hospice offer?
All hospices provide expert medical care, emotional and spiritual care, medicines, medical supplies and equipment, volunteers, and grief support after the death of a loved one. In addition to these services some hospices offer specialized programs for children, people with specific diseases, “pre-hospice” care for individuals not yet medically-ready for hospice care and other “extra” services that may benefit your family.
How long has the hospice been operating in the community?
Again, length of time in the community may be important to you and your family.
How many patients at any one time are assigned to each hospice staff member who will be caring for the patient?
Some hospices assign a certain number of patients to each staff member and may be willing to share that information with you. That might influence your decision to receive care from a hospice.
What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families.
All volunteers must receive training or orientation on hospice care. Some hospices provide specialized training related to bereavement, pediatric care, nursing home care, etc.
How quickly can the intake / admissions staff come to begin the admissions process? Is someone available at nights or on weekends?
Some hospices are able to begin the admissions process and have someone begin hospice services at night or on weekends. If you are referred to hospice late in the day or on the weekend, a hospice’s ability to start services quickly might be very important.
What is the organization’s governance structure?
Whether or not the organization is a non-profit, for-profit, government, faith-based or part of a larger healthcare organization may be important to you and your family.
Is the hospice a We Honor Veterans Partner?
We Honor Veterans Partners have demonstrated their commitment to improving the care they provide to Veterans and their family members.
Skip to content