• The focus of hospice is based on the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our loved ones should receive the necessary support.
  • In most cases, care is provided in the person’s home but care can be provided wherever the individual lives, including a hospital or nursing facility.
  • Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations.

Next Step

Learn more about hospice team members and their roles

Learn more

Anyone can inquire about hospice services. Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness. Hospice care is provided in the home, in freestanding hospice centers, within hospitals, and in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

To get started, you or your loved one may call a local hospice and ask about services. The hospice staff will then contact your physician to determine if a referral to hospice is appropriate. You might also start by asking your loved one’s physician about a hospice referral. Once a referral has been made, hospice staff will set up an initial meeting to review services and sign consent forms. Usually, care may begin within a day or two of a referral. In urgent situations, service may begin even sooner.

A person receiving hospice typically has access to a hospice volunteer, registered nurse, social worker, home health aide, and chaplain (also known as the interdisciplinary team). For each person and family, a care plan is created to make sure the person and family receive the care they need. Typically, a full-time registered nurse provides care to about a dozen different families. Social workers usually work with about twice that number. Home health aides, if needed, may be the most frequent visitors.

All visits are based on the needs of the care recipient and family, as described in the care plan. The frequency of volunteer and spiritual-based visits may depend on the desire and the availability of those services. Travel requirements and other factors may cause some variation in how many individuals each hospice staff member serves.


  • Use our hospice checklist to determine which hospice service will work best for you and your family.

By learning more now about hospice care and asking questions about what to expect, you can greatly reduce stress when hospice becomes necessary. End-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, but it demands advance preparation. To avoid the need for hasty decisions in the future, encourage loved ones and family members to as early as possible.

Next Step: Learn more about the various roles of hospice care team members

Content shown was developed through a collaboration between AGIS and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.