Frequently Asked Questions

Hospice Care in the Illinois Valley

Hospice care is a big step for both patients and their families. During this emotional time, many people have questions about what hospice care involves and what the patients can expect. At Illinois Valley Hospice we treat all patients with comfort, care, and dignity. These answers to frequently asked questions can give you a better idea of what we do and the excellent care you or your loved one can expect while staying with us.


How does hospice care begin?

Hospice care begins as soon as a formal request or referral is made. Illinois Valley Hospice will make a visit to the patient's home within 24 hours of receiving the referral, provided the visit fits the schedule of the patient and family or primary caregiver. During the initial visit, patients are evaluated and, if they meet criteria, are admitted to hospice. All hospice services are explained to the patient and family, and visit schedules are arranged for the duration of care. We want you to have a full understanding of the care you will receive. We will take the time to get to know you and answer your questions.

The hospice nurse will work with the patient and family to have any needed equipment set up in the home. Items such as a hospital bed or oxygen are often needed. Our staff will work with a medical equipment company to have equipment set up in the home.

During the first few days of hospice care, families will receive calls from various members of the hospice team, such as our spiritual care coordinator, social workers and volunteers. We want you to have the full benefit of hospice care and fully understand the services available to you and your loved one.

I know that hospice eligibility requires a life expectancy of 6 months or less. What happens if a patient lives longer than six months?

Patients frequently start to feel better after admission to hospice. Hospice support and management of symptoms enhance the patient's quality of life. Patients will not be discharged after six months as long as the doctor feels the patient is still terminal and has a life expectancy of six months or less.

Do I have to be homebound to receive hospice services?

No. Hospice patients are actually encouraged to go out as much as they wish and stay as active as possible for as long as possible. Patients may go on as many outings and trips as they are able. We want patients to enjoy and live life to its fullest.

What happens if I change my mind?

Patients may stop receiving hospice services at any time if they so desire.

Are there any special changes I need to make to my home before hospice care begins?

No changes are necessary for your home. Throughout your time with hospice, staff may have some suggestions as to ordering equipment for your home or minor suggestions for making your home more accessible. Our staff can help you decide how to best arrange your space.

Must a caregiver be with me at all times while I am on hospice care?

We will accept patients with or without a caregiver. Should your condition worsen to the point that a caregiver is necessary around the clock, our social workers are available to help you through these decisions and assist in getting the regular help you need.

What happens if I cannot stay at home due to my increasing care need and require a different place to stay?

Should your condition worsen to the point that you are no longer able to stay at home, our social workers will assist you and your family in finding a place for you to stay-this may be a nursing home, assisted-living facility, etc. Additionally, our staff will work with you to address any payment questions/issues for any facility considered.

How does hospice manage pain?

The goal of hospice care is to keep the patient comfortable and free of pain. Hospice staff specialize in sophisticated methods of pain management to keep patients comfortable in their own homes.

Is hospice available after hours?

Hospice staff are never more than a phone call away. Even after regular business hours, staff members are on-call for inquiries and emergencies.

How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?

Many patients may have pain and symptoms as illness progresses. Hospice staff receive special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort and distress. They are constantly monitoring patients for signs of pain and symptoms and respond as soon as they start.

Keeping patients comfortable and free of pain and symptoms is a primary goal of hospice care. Hospice staff work with the patient's physician to make sure that medication, therapies and procedures are designed to achieve the goals outlined in the patient's care plan, and limit pain/symptoms they may experience. The care plan is reviewed frequently to make sure any changes and new goals are in the plan.

When is the right time for hospice care?

This is a very common hospice question. The simple answer is the sooner the better. The earlier hospice is involved, the more we can help to make the final months, weeks and days as comfortable as possible.

By choosing hospice sooner, patients and families can get the full benefit of hospice in a number of ways:

  • They can get to know their primary nurse and the hospice team. Better rapport and relationships are established.
  • Our hospice team can manage pain and symptoms as soon as they begin.
  • Our hospice team can begin to prepare families and their loved one for the road ahead.

The greatest benefit to families is that time with their loved one is more pleasant and comfortable because the patient's quality of life is enhanced.

Who can refer to hospice?

Anyone. The patient, friends, family members or loved ones can make referrals to our hospice program. To make a referral, call us at 815.224.1307.

Will my insurance cover hospice care?

Hospice staff members help families and loved ones understand individual insurance coverage. Coverage generally includes any services related to the terminal diagnosis, including service of the hospice team, drugs for symptom management and pain relief, medical equipment, and oxygen and medical supplies. For those unable to pay for hospice services, Illinois Valley Hospice offers a charity care program.

Can I be admitted to the hospital while on hospice care?

The hospice program at Illinois Valley Hospice is a home hospice. Our ultimate goal is to keep patients in the comfort of their own home, close to family and friends, for as long as possible. However, there are times when hospital admissions are necessary.

Sometimes the need arises for hospital admission when pain and symptoms cannot be controlled in the home setting. During this time, patients are admitted to the hospital so that they can be closely monitored, and pain and symptoms can be controlled. Regular services of the hospice team do not change during a hospital stay. Our nurses, social workers, clergy, etc. continue hospice visits, just as they did before. Once pain and symptoms are controlled, patients can return home.

Patients may also be admitted to the hospital for family respite. While there are limitations to hospital admissions for family respite, they are allowed periodically. We understand that there are many issues-physical, mental and emotional-associated with end-of-life care. It is during this time that admissions for family respite are appropriate.

Continuous care at home can be provided in a period of crisis. If a patient develops acute symptoms and wishes to stay at home, Illinois Valley Hospice staff will stay in the home for brief periods to manage the symptoms. This cannot be done if the patient lives in a nursing home.