Levels of care

Hospice provides different levels of care in order to tailor to each patient’s specific needs. Both the patient’s physician and hospice nurse must approve of changes in level of care.

Routine Home Care

Routine home care is provided by hospice in the patient’s place of residence. The care is delivered by a specially trained and compassionate staff. These staff members are capable of providing medical, spiritual and social care. They assist with pain management, symptom management and activities of daily living. The hospice team also makes sure to communicate and coordinate care with the patient and family.

Most patients, with the assistance of the hospice team, are able to remain in their place of residence. Regardless if it is a private home or nursing home, many patients can remain at home for the duration of their illness with the help of hospice.

If the patient lives in a long-term care facility or nursing home, the care delivered is in addition to the normal nursing care provided by the facility and is covered by Medicare under a separate benefit. The care is coordinated by the interdisciplinary hospice team, nursing facility staff, the patient and the family.

Respite Care

Respite care is available to primary caregivers and families in need of help caring for patients. There are several local nursing facilities, as well as private respite homes, available for respite care. The patient is able to stay in one of the facilities or homes for up to five days per episode, according to Medicare guidelines. Medicare covers respite care costs as part of the hospice benefit. Ask your hospice team for more information regarding places that provide respite care.

Palliative care differs from curative care in that it is not intended to cure the disease. As a result, routine IV’s, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery would only be appropriate if the physician and the hospice staff determine these procedures in some way enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Continuous Care

If the patient’s symptoms are out of control or death is imminent, continuous care may be the most reasonable option. Continuous care is provided by the hospice team for several hours, up to 24 a day, until the crisis is resolved. The hospice nurse will assist in determining whether or not continuous care is needed.