Hospice FAQs


Q: Is hospice a place?
Hospice is a specialized form of health care and is not a place. Hospice care provides a special team approach to support the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people who are in the last six months of life and are no longer receiving curative treatment.

Hospice care can be provided wherever a patient resides, whether in a private home, nursing home, community-based residential facility (CBRF), residential care apartment complex (RCAC) or the Jack and Engrid Meng Residence (Unity's home-like hospice residence that features 12 private rooms).

Q: Is there a distinction between hospice care and treatment plus (formerly known as palliative care)?
Yes.  Hospice care and treatment plus both are specialties that provide comfort care, relief of suffering and improved quality of life; however, hospice care is available to individuals with a life expectancy of six months or less who are not seeking curative treatment, while treatment plus is offered to individuals during the course of a life-limiting illness, regardless of whether or not they are seeking curative treatment.

Q: Is hospice the same as home health nursing?
No.  Home health nursing is designed for short-term, rehabilitative interventions for home-bound individuals with a skilled medical need; whereas, hospice care addresses continuity of care during the last six months of a patient's life and does not require the patient to be home-bound. Hospice care also provides an interdisciplinary team including a nurse, social worker, certified nursing assistant, chaplain, volunteers, grief counselor and medical director.

Q: When should patients and families consider hospice care or treatment plus?
After an individual is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, the patient and family should consult with thier physician to evaluate whether or not hospice care or treatment plus is appropriate. Unity's staff would be happy to meet with you and explain care choices available to support your needs.

Q: What does the admission process involve?
Upon placing a call to Unity, a referral nurse will speak with you. You will be asked various questions, such as the name and contact information of the prospective patient, prognosis, physician name, etc., to aid in gathering information for further discussion. A social worker and/or nurse from Unity will then schedule a meeting with the prospective patient and family to discuss care needs and how Unity can help. Our goal is to make this contact within 12 to 24 hours of receiving the referral. Throughout the admission process, Unity staff is happy to answer your questions and guide any necessary paperwork. Individuals are at no time obligated to sign onto a Unity program, and strict confidentiality is honored at all times.

Q: Does hospice do anything to hasten death?
Hospice care neither advances nor suspends the dying process. Rather, hospice care focuses on patient comfort and offers specialized knowledge at the end of life.

Q: How is hospice different from other medical care?
Hospice care takes a holistic approach, providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to the patient and family with an interdisciplinary team approach. Care teams include your physician, nurses, social workers, chaplains, certified nursing assistants, grief counselors and volunteers. The main focus of care is to control the patient's pain and symptoms while providing information, assistance and support.

Q: How is Unity different from other area care providers?
Unity has been providing end-of-life care to the families of Northeast Wisconsin for over 30 years, longer than any other hospice-care organization in Wisconsin. In 2002, Unity began offering treatement plus (palliative care)  to the community. As the only locally-owned hospice organization offering a free-standing treatment plus program, Unity provides holistic physical, emotional and spiritual care to patients diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. The largest not-for-profit hospice and treatment plus care organization in Northeast Wisconsin, Unity is a partnership of its three founders: Bellin Health, St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospital.

Q: How do patients and families rate the care Unity provides compared to that of other providers?
As described in its mission, Unity's goal is to provide dignity, comfort and self-determination to all individuals coping with a life-limiting illness or the issues of grief and loss. Unity participates in a nationwide family evaluation survey created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and has implemented additional survey tools to aid in measuring our services.

Historically, caregivers responding to the surveys have rated Unity at or above the state and/or national averages for areas such as treating patients with respect, coordination of care and emotional support of family during care and after the loss of a loved one. As a result, virtually every family who has responded to the surveys has stated they would recommend Unity's services to others. 

Unity will continue to listen to both the needs of our patients and their families. We consider this a priority as well as the right thing to do.