Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose Mission Hospice & Home Care?

As a local, independent nonprofit organization, our bottom line is patient care. We’re committed to quality care, serving our community with a culturally sensitive and individual approach to hospice care. We tailor a care plan especially for your needs, and our programs offer a continuum of care to support you throughout the last year of life.

Mission Hospice has a low patient-to-nurse ratio, allowing us to provide the personalized care for which we are known. We are able to provide same-day service upon request, and have a multi-lingual staff to serve our diverse community.

Our dedicated staff and well-trained volunteers help ensure that our patients spend their final months in comfort and with the support they need. Our continuum of care allows you (and, importantly, your family) to remain with the same support team throughout your end-of-life journey.

We have provided quality professional care and compassionate support for end-of-life patients and their families in the San Mateo County area since 1979.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is focused on comfort and compassion, and the prevention and treatment of suffering. It treats the whole person, addressing physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Working as a team, specially trained nurses, doctors, social workers, and spiritual counselors work closely with patients and families to support quality of life and relieve the symptoms of disease. Palliative care can be given at any stage of a disease, and is offered across Mission Hospice & Home Care’s continuum of care. Learn more about palliative care from our Chief Clinical Officer.

What is hospice?

Hospice is palliative care for someone with a life-limiting illness. Hospice involves a team-oriented, holistic approach to expert medical care, pain and symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Hospice also supports the patient’s loved ones.

At the center of hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow this to occur. In this video, our RNs explain hospice care.

When is it time for hospice?

Patients with terminal diagnoses of six months or less and who wish to maintain quality of life may be ready for hospice care. Hospice is chosen by the patient with the consent of the primary care physician

Hospice is not designed to be started as emergency support. The intention is to allow patients and their loved ones time to plan the last phase of their life, with a team providing the physical, emotional, and spiritual care needed to ease his or her transition.

We have found that the quality of life of patients and families is highest when the patient is in hospice care for as long as possible. When the decision to start care is late, both patient and family can suffer unnecessarily.

Mission Hospice & Home Care focuses on quality of life, and provides pain management along with emotional, social, and inclusive spiritual care (as appropriate) for our patients and their families.

Where is hospice care provided?

In most cases, hospice care is provided in your home or the home of a loved one; you can also receive hospice care in hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities. Mission House, our hospice house, is an option for patients at the end of life who need intensive, round-the-clock symptom management that cannot be provided at home. Our medical professionals will help you find the best place for hospice care.

Can I keep my regular doctor after I enter hospice care?

Absolutely. Our medical staff works closely with your primary care physician to develop an individualized care plan for you.

Will hospice care hasten my death?

No – hospice care neither hastens death nor prolongs life. Hospice care allows you to remain comfortably in your home until the disease ends your life. When you begin hospice care, your doctor and your hospice team support you and your family throughout the physical, emotional, and spiritual changes that a terminal illness brings.

Does a referral to hospice mean that my doctor or I have given up?

A hospice referral means that when all other treatments are no longer helpful, you and those who love you want your last days to be as comfortable and as peaceful as possible.

What if I’m not ready for hospice?

Entering hospice care is a personal decision – and one that is always yours to make, or change. Studies have shown that hospice care is most effective when patients are with their teams for months, allowing them to build trusting relationships and participate in decisions about their care. Families have more time to prepare for the changes ahead. And we as medical professionals have the opportunity to manage pain and symptoms sooner, helping to avoid crises and hospital stays.

Our continuum of care is more than hospice, and includes palliative care at home (our Advanced Care program) for those who are not ready for hospice. 

What is home health care?

Home care is a broad term that is often used to describe non-clinical assistance in the home, such as help with bathing, cooking, or laundry. This type of personal care is not covered by Medicare, and is not regulated or certified. Home health care is licensed, skilled health care provided in the home – as in our Advanced Care Program. This is generally designed to help patients recover from or manage illness, injury, or surgery. Medicare and most insurance pay for home health care, which helps patients avoid a hospital or facility.

How do I request care?

Your primary physician can refer you to to any of our services. And our outreach team would be happy to talk with you or your family – just get in touch with us at or 650.554.1000.

If I show signs of improvement, can I return to regular medical treatment?

Absolutely.  You can choose to leave hospice care at any time.

How much does hospice care cost?

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, MediCal, and most private insurance plans. We are committed to supporting people throughout the challenges of a terminal diagnosis, regardless of their medical coverage or ability to pay.

The compassionate, individualized service provided by Mission Hospice exceeds the levels reimbursed by Medicare and private insurance, and contributions from the community make up the difference.

What role do volunteers play in hospice care?

Our hospice volunteers are trained to relieve your primary caregivers by providing respite care and staying with you. Perhaps the most important thing our volunteers do is to provide companionship and simply listen to you and your loved ones during this emotional time.

Still curious?  Learn some common myths about hospice.