What is Hospice?

Caring for Your Loved Ones

Hospice is a philosophy of highly skilled care that embraces the mind, body and spirit and focuses on comfort and quality of life. Hospice care treats the individual rather than the disease and honors the patient’s needs with medical, emotional, and spiritual support.

“We wanted to be a family again one last time at home. Hospice made it happen.” – Joe, father of a hospice patient

We are dedicated to those in our community who are facing the challenges of a life-limiting illness. Our unparalleled team of physicians, nurses, chaplains, certified nursing assistants and social workers specializes in the art and science of symptom management. Specially trained volunteers offer support to patients and their families.

“Hospice staffs, the nurses, everybody really pitched in and made us feel supported. They are fantastic.” – Sylvester, grandson of a hospice patient


Why Choose Hospice?

  • When a cure is no longer possible, hospice offers various levels of care for patients to manage their pain and symptoms with comfort and dignity as well as living life to the fullest extent possible.
  • We offer integrative arts, which recognize the importance of a holistic approach to caring for those experiencing advanced illness.
  • We provide care in the comfort of the place the patient calls “home.” This may be a private home, nursing facility, hospital, assisted living community or group home.
  • Dedicated team of hospice professionals are available 24/7 to answer questions and assist with any transition in care.
  • Hospice services are generally covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans.
  • The decision to enroll in hospice can be changed at any time if the person’s illness improves or if the person chooses to resume curative treatment.
  • Click here to read our “Myths about Hospice” list
  • Hospice care honors the patient’s needs and wishes; we offer special programs for Veterans and pediatric patients.

Severna Park, Md–4/26/14–Left to right, Diane Gray, Millsboro, DE; Deborah Rolig, Snow Hill; Midshipmen Pete Severs, ’15, Fairfax, VA, and Matt Robbins, ’17, Broadway, VA; Jean and Richard Harryman, Severna Park. Gray and Rolig are looking at a quilt presented to their father by the midshipmen during a “Honor Salute” ceremony. The Honor Salute, quilt and certificates thanking him for his service in the Marine Corps and Air Force is a program through Hospice of the Chesapeake where midshipmen visit dying veterans to honor to those that have served before them. Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun–#5771.

Levels of Care

Hospice is comfort care brought to every patient, whether in a private home, a nursing home, assisted living community or hospice house.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has defined four kinds, or “levels,” of hospice care. One patient may experience all four levels, perhaps in just a week or ten days of hospice services. Another patient may experience one level of care throughout the duration of his or her hospice care. Each level of care meets specific needs, and every hospice patient is unique.

Every Medicare-certified hospice provider must provide these four levels of care:

Routine hospice care is the most common level of hospice care. With this type of care, an individual has elected to receive hospice care at their residence, which can include a private residence, assisted living facility or nursing facility.

General inpatient care is provided for pain control or other acute symptom management that cannot feasibly be provided in any other setting and begins when other efforts to manage symptoms have been ineffective. General Inpatient Care can be provided in a Medicare certified hospital, hospice inpatient facility or nursing facility that has a registered nurse available 24 hours a day to provide direct patient care.

Continuous home care is care provided for between 8 and 24 hours a day to manage pain and other acute medical symptoms. Continuous home care services must be predominantly nursing care, supplemented with caregiver and hospice aide services and are intended to maintain the patient at home during a pain or symptom crisis.

Respite care is available to provide temporary relief to the patient’s primary caregiver. Respite care can be provided in a hospital, hospice facility or a long-term care facility that has sufficient 24-hour nursing personnel present on all shifts to guarantee that the patient’s needs are met. Respite care is provided for a maximum of five consecutive days.


Your Hospice Team

Your interdisciplinary team works closely together with you, your family and each other to meet the highest possible standards of care for you. Team members are responsible for regular communication and sharing of important information concerning our patients with other team members and with appropriate hospice team members to provide you and your family with well-coordinated and comprehensive treatment. The interdisciplinary team concept is unique to hospice care and we believe critical to the successful holistic care of patients approaching the end of life. Each patient’s and family’s plan of care is specific to their unique illness and course. Different team members will be utilized based on the needs of the patient and their loved ones.


 Primary Team

Hospice Nurse – A Registered Nurse who is responsible for primary hospice care management.  Regular visits are made to patient’s home, hospital or nursing home to carry out care and treatment prescribed by a Physician. The Registered Nurse supports patient and family through crisis situations.

Social Worker – The Social Worker assesses patient and family needs and is available for counseling. They educate the patient and family about community resources and provide ongoing support. Services may be provided in the home, nursing home or office.

Chaplain – The Chaplain provides spiritual care for hospice patients and families. They assess spiritual needs of patients and families who request chaplaincy services and provides spiritual comfort.

Medical Director – A Physician who assumes overall responsibility of medical care of patients in conjunction with the patient’s own physician and hospice team. The Medical Director is available for consultations and emergencies when the patient’s own physician is not available.

Certified Nursing Assistant – A Nursing Assistant who provides personal care services under supervision of the Registered Nurse.

Volunteer – The Volunteer visits patient and family on a regular basis and provides respite for families. They offer practical help and are available to provide understanding and caring to the patient and family.

Bereavement Counselor – Responsible for bereavement care/counseling for Hospice families.  Counselors in the Chesapeake Life Center provide grief support through individual or family counseling for adults and children/teens.  In addition, various grief support groups and educational events are available to hospice families after the death of their loved one. Hospice families are eligible for up to 10 grief counseling sessions and a variety of support groups at no charge for up to 13 months following death.

Bereavement Volunteer – A volunteer from Chesapeake Life Center will call within the first couple of months after your loss to see how you are doing and to remind you of the availability of bereavement support. In addition, the Chesapeake Life Center sends informational mailings about grief throughout the 13 months following the death.  Volunteers also assist in Chesapeake Life Center activities.


 Optional Team Members

Liaison Nurse – A Registered Nurse who coordinates the transition of the patient and family from the hospital or nursing home to hospice care and provides outreach and education to nursing staff, physicians and discharge planners.

Licensed Practical Nurse – The LPN makes visits to patients requiring nursing treatments as assigned by a Registered Nurse. They assist and support family through physical and/or emotional crisis situations.

On-Call Nurse – A Registered Nurse who provides nursing care during after–hours times, 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., weekdays, weekends and holidays.

Hospice Team Manager – A Registered Nurse who is responsible for coordination of patient and family hospice clinical services. They supervise the primary nurses in the care of patients.

To learn more about where we provide care and our inpatient care centers, click here.

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