What is Hospice?


Hospice is a benefit that offers healthcare, assistance, and education to support patients and their families facing the challenges of an advanced illness. It is individualized care that offers compassion, dignity, comfort, respect, and someone to call for assistance, anytime day or night.

Infants, children, and adults who face an advanced illness can qualify as hospice patients. Their disease diagnosis may include cancer, end-stage chronic illnesses such as lung, heart, and kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, strokes, ALS, and neurological diseases.

Most hospice patients receive care and support in their own homes, in familiar surroundings with loved ones. Home is wherever a patient lives and can include assisted living facilities, rest homes, and nursing homes. Patients are also served in hospitals and our hospice care centers.

A patient’s physician continues to manage medical care in coordination with the hospice team that provides day-to-day support to hospice patients and their families. Our team members are qualified physicians, nurses, certified nurse assistants, social workers, chaplains, counselors, and volunteers.

The team provides a support network to help patients live as fully and as comfortably as possible by offering:

  • Expertise in reducing pain and lessening symptoms
  • Bathing and other personal care
  • Grief and spiritual counseling and support
  • Companionship, respite, and assistance with errands
  • Advance care planning and decision-making assistance
  • Help with family discussions
  • Accessibility to available community resources

Lower Cape Fear Hospice provides care to people living in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow, and Pender counties in North Carolina, and through Lower Cape Fear Hospice Mercy Care, we serve Horry, Georgetown and Marion counties in South Carolina.

Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances have a hospice benefit. Community grants, donations, and fundraising activities through Lower Cape Fear Hospice Foundation help provide care to patients regardless of ability to pay.

Anyone (family, friends, physicians, hospitals, clergy, and patients themselves) can refer to hospice. Hospice team members will meet with patients to learn about concerns, determine needs, answer questions, and explain the benefits of hospice services in more detail. There is no obligation or cost for this visit.

Please read more about our hospice services for in-depth information about the quality hospice care you can expect from  Lower Cape Fear Hospice, or contact us to speak with one of our hospice professionals.

Understanding Hospice

If you qualify for hospice care, you are not giving up hope! Hospice is medical care that reduces pain, helps manage symptoms, and provides you with information about your illness. We do this while allowing you to take an active role in your care and we’re available to support your family along the way.

• Many people think hospice care is just for the elderly or is only for cancer patients. That’s not true. We offer our care and support services to everyone with an advanced illness, from infants through adults. While many of our patients are living with cancer, more than half of the people we care for have another illness like lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, dementia, ALS, have suffered from strokes or have neurological diseases. About 16 percent of our patients are younger than 65.

• Hospice isn’t a place you go. While we have three inpatient hospice care centers that provide short-term, acute care, about 95 percent of our patients receive care right where they live – their homes, assisted living facilities, rest homes and nursing homes. We want you to stay in familiar surroundings with your loved ones.

LCFH Hospice Circle of Care• While hospice care focuses on your care and needs, we’re here to support your family, too. We offer education; have people available that can be called any time, day or night; provide volunteers to help with errands or other family needs; and have trained, certified counselors available for grief counseling, spiritual counseling and support. Our grief services don’t end when a patient dies. We remain available to provide grief support for up to 13 months after a death.

• Research shows people who choose hospice care live longer than similar patients who don’t. Although the hospice benefit was designed to help people with a life expectancy of six months or less, about 50 percent of our patients receive care and support for only 14 days or less. We encourage early enrollment in hospice benefits so our team has more time to establish a relationship with you and your family, help better control your symptoms, ease your pain and offer more emotional, spiritual and grief support.

• Most of our patients have a diagnosis of having six months or longer to live, but if you live longer than that, it doesn’t mean you have to leave hospice care. As long as your disease is running its course, you can re-enroll for as long as you qualify.

• Your hospice care can be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance, however, since we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we provide care to everyone who qualifies for our services, regardless of ability to pay. Hospice care includes having your prescriptions and needed medical equipment delivered right to your door.

• While many referrals to hospice care come from healthcare providers, anyone can refer someone to our services. About 11 percent of our patient referrals come from the community and family members. After we are contacted, a member of our team will meet with you to learn about your concerns, determine your needs, answer your questions and talk about hospice care in more detail. There is no obligation or cost for this visit.

• Did you know that you have the option to either keep your own physician or come under the care of one of ours? Our care team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, hospice aides, social workers and chaplains have specialized training in hospice and palliative care. We work directly with you and your physician to create the best plan of care.

We also offer support in planning for end of life. Our team can talk with you about advance care planning and can help you complete legal documents like a Living Will or Healthcare Power of Attorney form. These documents can help your loved ones honor your wishes if you can no longer speak for yourself. Visit our advance care planning website, www.BegintheConversation.org for more information. While we do share information with you about Do Not Resuscitate Orders (DNR), hospice patients are not required to have a DNR to receive our care.

At Lower Cape Fear Hospice, we believe every moment matters. We know you are living for special moments like birthdays, anniversaries, time to be spent with family and friends, or some other life milestone. That’s why we are here. We will help you focus on quality of life while living the rest of your days full of meaning with comfort and hope.

The most common thing we hear from our patients and families is, “I wish I had known about hospice sooner.” Don’t wait; call us today to find out more about our services. We want you to live well because we believe every moment matters.