Quick Questions & Answers

What is hospice?

Hospice is for people with a life-limiting illness and their loved ones. We focus on supporting the individual and family with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Our focus is on comfort and helping you maintain your independence as long as possible rather than seeking a cure. The ultimate goal of hospice care is to help individuals live their remaining days to the fullest—with purpose, dignity, grace, and support.

The Medicare definition of hospice:

  • Hospice helps people live out their remaining days with as high quality as possible
  • Hospice care is provided by trained hospice professionals who care for the whole person (physical, emotional, and spiritual) and loved ones
  • Hospice provides support to family members caring for the person with a life-limiting illness
  • Hospice is provided wherever the patient calls home
  • Hospice services may include prescriptions, treatments, medical equipment and supplies, counseling, physical, occupational or speech therapy, related to the terminal diagnosis
  • Hospice does not shorten or prolong life, but rather allows natural death
  • Hospice focuses on comfort, rather than cure

What services does hospice offer?

  • Coordination of services and care with the patient's family doctor and/or hospice medical director
  • Expert management of physical symptoms
  • Available on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Training of family members in loved one's care when appropriate
  • Spiritual and emotional support for the patient and family
  • Dietary consultations when needed
  • Help with practical matters associated with the hospice diagnosis
  • Home health aides to help with personal care such as bathing, dental and mouth care
  • Volunteers to help with needs of patients and families
  • Speech, occupational, and physical therapies when appropriate
  • Bereavement and support for families and loved ones
  • Continuous care for brief periods of time when a patient is in crisis and needs more constant care
  • For persons residing in a nursing home or other care setting, expert care for pain and symptom control is provided as well as all the other services listed above

What are the criteria for hospice admission?

Each diagnosis has particular criteria to determine hospice eligibility. In addition to the criteria based on diagnosis, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • Your physician and the hospice medical director certify, based on clinical judgment, that if the illness follows the "normal course," the patient probably has 6 months or less to live
  • You and/or your family agree to seek comfort care rather than curative care for your terminal diagnosis
  • You agree to receive care from a Medicare approved hospice provider, whether or not your funding source is Medicare

Who pays for Hospice Care?

Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans cover hospice services based on certain eligibility requirements. Hospice pays for supplies, treatments, in-patient care, and medications related to the terminal diagnosis. Buckner Hospice staff helps patients and families coordinate benefits and reimbursement to ensure access to hospice care. No patient is denied care based on his/her inability to pay.

You can receive Medicare hospice benefits when you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You're eligible for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
  • Your doctor and the hospice medical director certify that you're terminally ill and have 6 months or less to live if your illness runs its normal course
  • You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered benefits to treat your terminal illness*
  • You get care from a Medicare-approved hospice program

* Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that aren't related to your terminal illness.

How long can you receive hospice care?

You can receive hospice care as long as your physician and the hospice medical director continue to certify that you have 6 months or less to live if your illness runs its normal course. If you live longer than 6 months, you can still receive hospice care, as long as the hospice medical director recertifies that you are terminally ill.

How can I get started?

Contact Buckner Hospice in Austin

Call us at 512-873-8145

What happens if the patient gets better or changes their mind?

If the patient's condition improves or stabilizes, the patient is discharged from hospice services. Hospice care can be provided again when the patient meets criteria listed above. If a patient chooses not to receive hospice care, he/she may sign paperwork to cancel (revoke) the hospice benefit. If, at a later time, the patient chooses to go back to hospice care, it can be provided again if the patient meets the criteria listed above.

Who can refer a patient?

Anyone may refer an individual to a hospice program—a friend, a relative, a home health nurse, a hospital case manager, your primary care physician. Please call or email us and our staff will be happy to visit with you to describe the services available.


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You have a choice when you choose hospice care. And at Buckner Hospice Houston, our goal is to provide you and your loved ones the most appropriate and meaningful care you deserve—always striving to exceed your expectations.

Whether you have a loved one ready for hospice care, or you simply need more information to determine if hospice care is appropriate, we’re here for you. We know it’s a difficult call to make. It is never too early to begin the hospice conversation.

Our physicians, professionally trained staff, and trained volunteers will provide care based on your specific needs. Our team strives to keep you and your loved ones at peace and as comfortable as possible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, summarized the hospice mission well when she said, “You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life. We will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to help you live until you die.”


If you'd like more information on how hospice can care for your loved one, please give us a call at 281.493.6800 or contact our care team.

"Our family is so grateful for the kind and loving care my mother, Ann Shaw, has received from Buckner Hospice. Starting with the administrative staff through the actual care providers, Buckner Hospice has provided true Christian care, counseling, and understanding in this most difficult time." ~Donah Shaw Parker (daughter-Houston, Texas)