Monarch butterfly on a flower

Frequently Asked Questions

Making decisions about end-of-life care is never easy. We’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions we get, but we know that everyone’s needs are unique. If you have questions that aren’t addressed here, please contact us directly.

FAQ Topics

  • Alive FAQs+

    How does Alive go above and beyond standard hospice care?

    We are committed to providing personalized care that meets the unique needs of individual patients and families. Thanks to donor support, we go above and beyond standard hospice care and provide additional services to the entire community: counseling and support for caregivers, grief therapy for adults and children, end-of-life care education, community building, and remembrance events for healing. We are the only hospice in the region with residences available for when patients need 24/7 care to manage symptoms or a caregiver needs a respite to take care of themselves and other life obligations. Our physicians are on staff, not contractors, and we are one of the few hospices in the country that have an on-staff pharmacist to manage medications. We also provide financial support when insurance doesn't cover everything, giving nearly $1.5 million a year to ensure proper care for those who need it.

    How is Alive’s care personalized?

    We work with patients and their current physicians and specialists to develop an individualized care plan that supports their current treatment plan and their values. We want to get to know you, who and what matters to you? What makes you happy and comfortable? And also, what don’t you like? We will work collaboratively with your current care providers to ensure that we understand your existing treatment plan and to keep everyone in sync as we become part of your existing team.

    How do you serve the community?

    As the only nonprofit hospice in the region, we are committed to serving not only our own patients but the entire community. Our Grief Center services are available to all on a sliding scale. We also partner with local businesses and other service providers to bring end-of-life education and planning to all who need it.

    How do families rate their experience with Alive?

    Alive is rated among the best in the nation by families in a standardized national survey* that determine quality of care. *The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Hospice Survey

    If the patient isn’t covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will Alive still provide care?

    The first thing Alive will do is help find out if the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Barring this, we try to provide care for anyone who cannot pay using money raised from the community or from memorial or foundation gifts. Alive gives nearly $1.5 million each year in financial support. Learn more about Financial Support at Alive.
  • Caregiver Support+

    How does Alive support caregivers and loved ones of patients?

    Caring for a declining loved one, coping with a terminal diagnosis and surviving loss are some of the greatest challenges we will face in a lifetime. With Alive, you don’t have to do it alone. Our social workers, chaplains, grief counselors, and volunteers are available to help with everything from care logistics to companionship for family and patients to individual counseling and support groups.

    How does Alive help caregivers when they have a question about care?

    Henry Hooker Alive Connect is Alive’s telehospice program which adds even greater support for caregivers. Each patient receives an iPad set up for face-to-face calls with their care team 24/7 (while protecting private healthcare data). Alive Connect is used by patients and caregivers when they have a question or concern. It helps the team assess whether an emergency home or hospital visit is needed. Most of the time, this can be avoided as the patient and caregiver get the guidance they need. It does not take the place of regularly scheduled in-person visits, but rather provides extra support.

    As a caregiver, what does Alive do when I need a break? Or when my loved one’s symptoms are out of control?

    We are the only hospice in the region with two residences available for when patients need 24/7 care to manage symptoms or a caregiver needs a respite to take care of themselves and other life obligations. Our residences are located in Nashville and Murfreesboro. They are peaceful, open, and friendly. We encourage visitors and ask patients to bring their favorite things from home to make their room their own. Each residence features a central garden courtyard and has space set aside for both quiet reflection and family gatherings.

    What is Alive’s telehospice program? How does it work with in-person care?

    Henry Hooker Alive Connect is Alive’s telehospice program which adds even greater support for caregivers. Each patient receives an iPad set up for face-to-face calls with their care team 24/7 (while protecting private healthcare data). Alive Connect is used by patients and caregivers when they have a question or concern. It helps the team assess whether an emergency home or hospital visit is needed. Most of the time, this can be avoided as the patient and caregiver get the guidance they need. It does not take the place of regularly scheduled in-person visits, but rather provides extra support.
  • Entering Hospice+

    What is hospice care?

    Hospice is a specialized branch of medicine in which terminal patients and their loved ones are cared for by an entire team with the goal of maximizing quality of life. This compassionate personalized, family-centered care is a comprehensive, holistic approach to treatment provided by a highly skilled interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, chaplains, hospice aides, and volunteers.

    Will I still be able to make my own decisions regarding my care?

    Yes. You and your family are the decision-makers along with your primary care doctor and any specialists you currently see.

    Is hospice care just for the last few weeks or days of life? How soon should we consider this option?

    Individuals can receive all the benefits that hospice has to offer for months and longer (there is not a time limit, though there are eligibility guidelines). In fact, the most frequent comment from patients and families is that they wish they had experienced hospice care earlier in the illness. Under Medicare (and most insurance) guidelines, patients are eligible to elect hospice care if they are certified by a physician to be terminally ill. The goal is to make the patient as physically and emotionally comfortable as possible while also supporting their loved ones.

    Does choosing hospice mean “giving up”?

    While a terminal prognosis is never easy to accept, what happens next is for every individual and their loved ones to decide. Most people find hospice care empowering. It provides the possibility for spending more meaningful time with loved ones instead of undergoing treatments that cannot provide a cure.

    Will I be cared for at an Alive hospice residence or in my own home?

    This decision is up to you. More than 90% of our patients prefer to receive care in their own homes, while our residences in Nashville and Murfreesboro provide a comfortable, compassionate environment when inpatient care is needed.

    What does the hospice admission process involve?

    One of the first things we will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient at this time. Alive has medical staff available to help patients who have no physician. In fact, Alive is one of the few hospices to have its own on-staff doctors and a pharmacist. When the admission process begins, the patient will sign consent and insurance forms, similar to when someone enters a hospital. The hospice election form says that the patient understands that the care is palliative (meaning that it is aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.

    Does hospice care include emotional support?

    We offer emotional support for patients and their loved ones. A life-limiting illness affects everyone and caregivers, in particular, need extra support. Licensed social workers are experienced in sensitive counseling, facilitating discussions, and providing support for coping with terminal illnesses to make life as easy as possible. Additionally, they provide connections to community resources and assist with planning in the event of a critical need for assistance. Volunteers can provide companionship including simple listening (with complete confidentiality), reading, or just being physically present. Thanks to our generous donors, our Grief Center offers affordable counseling to the entire community, not just those with a loved one in our care.

    Is Alive affiliated with any religious organization?

    No. Alive has no religious affiliation. Our chaplains are available to serve any and all who would like additional spiritual support in accordance with their own beliefs.

    Will my advance directives be honored by Alive?

    Absolutely. We do not require a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, and we will review all options with you.

    Do you provide any advance directive resources?

    Yes. Please see for all the forms you need to create a legally binding advance directive or “living will” in the state of Tennessee.

    Can I still use my regular doctor?

    Yes. Our team will collaborate closely with your primary care physician while you receive our care.

    Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

    Certainly. If the patient's condition improves, they can be discharged from hospice to seek curative treatments. If the discharged patient needs hospice care in the future, they may return.

    What will happen if I outlive my prognosis?

    You will receive the same high quality of care regardless of how long you are in our care, and your costs will remain the same.

    Does hospice care do anything to make death come sooner?

    Hospice care neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of childbirth, hospice provides specialized care during the dying process.
  • Grief Support+

    Does Alive provide counseling to the family?

    We provide counseling and support for family and loved ones once when a terminal diagnosis is made and following the death of a loved one. Our grief support services are available for anyone in the community on a sliding scale. Click here for more information, or call 615-963-4732.
  • Home Hospice Care+

    How often will my hospice team visit when I am at home?

    You and your team will create a schedule that fits your needs. The frequency of visits depends on the patient’s condition and is increased or decreased as needed.

    What if I have an emergency in the middle of the night?

    The Alive team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our Henry Hooker Alive Connect telehospice program lets you talk face-to-face with your care team immediately, at any time.

    What specific assistance do you provide home-based hospice patients?

    You will be cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, hospice certified nursing assistants, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. Each provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, we provide medications, supplies, equipment, hospital services related to the terminal illness, and additional helpers in the home (if and when needed).

    Is there any special equipment I need in my home before hospice care begins? Changes I need to make?

    We will assess your needs and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the illness progresses. Alive will help in any way it can to make home care as convenient and safe as possible.

    How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

    There is no set number. One of the first things your care team will do is make an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed by the patient. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always available to answer medical questions, provide support, and teach caregivers.

    Does someone need to be with the patient at all times?

    In the early weeks of care, it's usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. As death approaches, many prefer to have a companion nearby. While family and friends deliver most of the care, we provide volunteer companions and others to assist with errands and/or provide a break for the primary caregiver. We will work with you to establish a visit schedule from your hospice team to meet your unique needs.

    Do you only offer hospice care in patients’ homes?

    No. We provide care wherever a patient calls home (hospitals, long-term care residences, etc.) We also have two of our own residences where patients stay when 24/7 care is needed or when a caregiver needs a respite.
  • Pain Management+

    How does hospice care manage pain?

    Emotional and spiritual pain are just as real as physical pain, and our care addresses each type of pain. Our hospice nurses and doctors are experts in the relief of physical pain and symptoms. Our counselors, chaplains, and social workers are available to assist family members and patients with spiritual and emotional support.

    What is hospice care’s success rate in battling pain?

    Very high. Using a combination of medications, counseling, and holistic therapies, pain can be kept under control.

    Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what’s happening?

    Usually not. One of the goals of our care is to keep the patient as pain-free and alert as possible.
  • Palliative Care+

    What’s the difference between palliative care and hospice?

    Hospice and palliative care offer similar elements such as an inter-disciplinary team and a focus on quality of life. Palliative care is available to those with a life-limiting illness and may be administered alongside curative treatments. Hospice care is available once a terminal diagnosis is made. Learn more about palliative care.
  • Payment+

    How are Alive’s services paid for?

    A variety of options are available for patients needing hospice care. These include:
    • Medicare Hospice Benefit: Medicare covers hospice care. Covered services include clinical visits, equipment, and supplies related to the terminal illness. We will contact the insurance provider and let patients know any cost for which they are responsible.
    • Private insurance: Many private insurance policies cover most, if not all, hospice services. We will contact the insurance provider and notify the patient of any out-of-pocket cost and policy limitations such as copays and deductibles.
    • Residence room and board fees: Costs associated with staying in one of our residences are not covered by Medicare, or by most private insurance plans. Room and board fees are billed on a sliding fee scale. Our social workers can assist patients and their families to secure financial assistance when needed.
  • When is it time for hospice?+

    We can help sooner than you think

    Many people simply don’t realize that hospice care is *not* just for the final days of life. Patients are eligible as soon as their life expectancy is six months or less. That means hospice care is available for several months and often lasts even longer. In some cases, the extra care enables patients to live longer than expected while experiencing a better quality of life. Signs that it may be time to ask your doctor about hospice include:
    • A diagnosis of a terminal illness
    • The desire to focus on comfort and quality of life
    • A rapid decline in health and symptoms that can no longer be controlled
    Learn more about when is it time...