Frequently Asked Questions About Sharp HospiceCare

Sharp HospiceCare understands that patients and their loved ones have many questions during this time. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding our hospice care.

What is Sharp HospiceCare?
Founded in 1992, Sharp HospiceCare is a nonprofit organization that serves San Diego County patients and their families facing terminal illness. Since we are part of Sharp HealthCare, patients can maintain their personal relationships with their physicians and continue to receive support from them. Sharp HospiceCare will provide care in any setting in which a patient resides — in their home, a skilled nursing facility or a hospital.

Sharp HospiceCare offers special services to support and care for people in the final phase of a terminal illness, by focusing on palliative or relief measures rather than curative treatment. Under the direction of a physician, Sharp HospiceCare uses sophisticated methods of pain and symptom control that enable the patient to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice treats the person, not the disease.

An added benefit of the Sharp HospiceCare experience are our hospice innovative living environments, LakeView and ParkView. The only places of their kind in San Diego County, these two facilities operate solely to provide care and support to patients, families and friends dealing with end-of-life needs. The residences are staffed 24 hours a day by registered nurses and offer private rooms, spacious living areas and lakeside or parkside comfort. This homelike setting offers emotional, physical and spiritual care, and provides families the personal time to reflect and celebrate their life together. Plans are underway to open additional hospice residence in the county to serve more patients.

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Who is eligible for hospice?
Hospice services are available to people with life-limiting medical conditions. In order for a person to receive hospice care, a physician must certify that the individual has a terminal illness with an anticipated life expectancy of six months or less, assuming the illness runs its predicted course. Before enrolling in hospice, the patient or legal designee must provide written informed consent indicating that he or she understands the hospice philosophy and services, and chooses to receive hospice care.

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Who pays for hospice?
Reimbursement for hospice services is usually covered by one of the following: 1) Medicare, 2) Medi-Cal, 3) private insurance or 4) charity care. Sharp HospiceCare accepts patients based on their health needs, not on their ability to pay. Hospice services are paid for if they are related to the terminal illness.

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What services are covered under hospice?
Hospice provides services which are directly associated with care related to the terminal illness, and may include:

  • Grief counseling for the immediate family and significant others
  • Home-health aides and homemaker services
  • Inpatient care
  • Medical social services
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Physician and nursing services
  • Respite care (temporary relief for primary caregiver(s))
  • Spiritual care

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How long will I live?
Your hospice team understands that a life-threatening illness can present many difficult challenges and concerns. Often, terminally ill patients and their loved ones ask about their prognosis — that is, the anticipated outcome of the disease. Ordinarily, this information first comes from a physician who is familiar with the patient’s health history and current condition.

The hospice team will be able to provide you and your family with information concerning the physical and mental changes you may expect to see in the near future. General information about changes that may occur in someone approaching the end of life can be found in the booklet "When the Time Comes: A Caregiver's Guide," which is included in the Sharp HospiceCare information folder.

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How often will hospice visit?
We understand that patients and their loved ones have very special needs during this time, and we will work hard to make sure our visits meet the level of care for each person. Hospice care focuses on helping patients achieve comfort and quality of life. The members of your hospice team will discuss and plan with you how frequently you will need them to visit.

Initial visits from your Sharp HospiceCare team members may last one to two hours as they explain our services and work with you to establish your individual plan of care. Follow-up visits are usually 30 to 60 minutes in length. In addition, a hospice nurse is available to you by telephone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 619-667-1900.

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What does spiritual care have to do with hospice?
We understand that some families believe spiritual care has a legitimate role when the patient is very close to the end of life. Spiritual care services are available to our patients and their families throughout the entire hospice experience. Our chaplains work within all religious and spiritual belief systems, and provide spiritual care to individuals who do not identify with any specific religion. The Spiritual Care Department is a source of spiritual and emotional companionship, guidance and comfort. Our goal is for patients and their families to feel spiritually supported throughout this turbulent, often heartbreaking, time.

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What can volunteers do, and when are they available?
Volunteers are an integral part of the support Sharp HospiceCare provides to patients and their loved ones. Their services include caregiver support, companionship, social activities, reading and letter writing. They also assist families with errands, light housekeeping and transportation. While all of our volunteers are screened and trained prior to joining the team, they are not medical personnel and are unable to provide hands-on medical care or dispense medication. Volunteers can provide up to four hours of service per week. Scheduling of volunteer visits is established on a situational basis to best meet the needs of the patient and family.

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How can bereavement services help us?
No one has to grieve alone. Sharp HospiceCare's bereavement department offers patients, families and friends facing end-of-life issues a chance to ease their burdens and make grief a little less lonely, confusing and frightening. Our skilled mental-health professionals specialize in the needs of the bereaved and provide grief education, support and referral services. We offer individual and family counseling, routine telephone contact, support groups and a monthly mailing program, plus community education and referral resources. These services are free of charge and are available to families for up to 13 months after their loved one has passed away, although participation in support groups can extend beyond this time frame.

Sharp HospiceCare is committed to providing a safe, supportive and confidential environment to help patients and families cope with their feelings, thoughts and concerns throughout their time of loss. Bereavement counseling services are provided in our hospice office, located at 8881 Fletcher Parkway, Suite 336, in La Mesa. For those who are not able to come to our office, home visits may be available. To learn more about bereavement services, call 619-667-1900.

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How do I know if my child is dealing well with losing a loved one, and how can hospice help?
If a child is old enough to love, he or she is old enough to grieve. Sharp HospiceCare counselors are trained to recognize behaviors that indicate how well children are coping with grief. They work with the parent(s) to determine the most appropriate form of support, whether it is individual, family and/or group counseling.

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What should I expect when I call Sharp HospiceCare for help?
The first voice you will hear will be the hospice receptionist. You will be asked a few questions to make sure that your call is directed to the correct person. If you need to speak with a nurse, the call will be transferred to a nurse who will be able to assist you. If you need to speak with another hospice team member, your call will be directed accordingly. Your call may be put on hold for just a moment while the call is transferred.

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What should I expect when I call after hours?
Sharp HospiceCare’s office hours are 7 days a week, 8 am to 5 pm. After office hours, your call will be routed through a hospice answering service. The operator will ask for your name and the name of the patient, and will page the on-call hospice nurse who will return your call as soon as possible.

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What is palliative care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses and focuses on providing patients relief from the symptoms, pain and stress that go along with serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the patient's family. At Sharp, a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists work together to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care can be provided at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, together with curative treatment if desired. 

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Our Commitment to You
All of us at Sharp HospiceCare want you to be 100 percent satisfied with the care and service we provide. Our goal is to exceed your expectations of us. For us to accomplish this, it is essential that you let your hospice team know what you need. We are committed to providing excellent care and service, and ask you to help us do so by letting us know how we are doing.

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Contact Us
If you have any questions or concerns, please call Sharp HospiceCare at 619-667-1900 or toll-free at 1-800-681-9188. Our office is located at 8881 Fletcher Parkway, Suite 336, La Mesa, CA 91942.

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For More Information
To learn more about Sharp HospiceCare, call 619-667-1900. To find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.