Common Questions


What is hospice care?

Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments.  Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death. Hospice staff and volunteers offer a specialized knowledge of medical care, including pain and symptom management, as well as spiritual, emotional and bereavement care.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses and focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stresses of the illness – whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

What’s the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

Palliative care relieves symptoms of a disease or disorder, whether or not it can be cured.  Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for people who likely have 6 months or less to live.  In other words, hospice care is always palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice care.

Who determines if a patient is eligible for hospice?

In order to receive hospice services, a physician must certify that the patient meets specific medical eligibility criteria, generally, the patient’s life expectancy is 6 months or less if the illness runs its typical course. If the patient lives longer than six months but his condition continues to decline, he may be re-certified by a physician for additional time in hospice care. If a hospice patient’s condition improves, he may be discharged from hospice care. The patient will be eligible for hospice again if his condition begins to decline.

Does hospice provide care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

Hospice staff is on call for emergencies 24 hours a day, however hospice care does not include a nurse in the home 24/7.  For individuals who require more care than can be provided in the home by family caregivers, our Sawtelle Family Hospice House offers an alternative.  Hospice care may also be provided to patients who reside in nursing homes or assisted living centers.

How do I know Middlesex-East Visiting Nurse Hospice provides quality care?

Middlesex-East Visiting Nurse Hospice follows a rigorous performance improvement program that ensures we maintain the highest standard of care. We solicit feedback on family satisfaction surveys that are tracked and analyzed quarterly. Our hospice program is Medicare certified and licensed  as a deficiency free agency by the Massachusetts Department of Health.