Hospice care is a type of specialized care for someone with a terminal illness who has received a referral from a doctor, usually with a life expectancy under six months. Unlike palliative care, which can run concurrent with curative treatments, this type of care focuses instead on improving the patient’s comfort and quality of life, while reducing pain during their remaining time. In addition to physical aid, it often includes emotional and spiritual support for both the patient and their family.
Hospice services can be provided in the patient’s home, or in a residential hospice facility, hospital, nursing home, assisted living, or other long-term care community.
Hospice care in the home can be given for the duration of the terminal patient’s life (after a referral from a doctor is attained), or just during the times when the patient has a crisis and requires more care than their family member or caregiver can provide. Respite care is a level of care provided and paid for by hospice when the regular caregiver needs a break or can’t cope with the situation.
Hospice care in a residential hospice facility may be provided when the patient’s symptoms can no longer be controlled at home.
Hospice care at a long-term care community can be given throughout the duration of the patient’s life, after the doctor’s recommendation.
When an individual requires hospice care, an entire team is typically assigned to work with the patient and their caregiver or family member. They develop an individualized care plan to help control any symptoms and/or pain, and to provide the patient with any emotional or spiritual support they need.
The hospice team often consists of:
The hospice team will make regular visits to check on the patient, and to provide additional care or other services as needed. Members of the team are generally on call 24 hours a day. This applies whether services are being received at home or in a facility.
Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance (sometimes with a co-pay), based on individual needs. Under Medicare, hospice care covers most medications, medical equipment, around-the-clock access to care, nursing, social services and grief support, and potentially other services deemed necessary based on the patient’s unique needs. Hospice care may provide companion care through a volunteer program, but doesn’t typically provide home care.
Care will vary based on individual needs determined by the hospice team, and as written in the customized care plan. However, hospice care generally includes the following:
Consider these statements below for yourself or on behalf of your loved one:
The costs of hospice care are typically covered based on the following four levels established by Medicare:
– Martin Luther King Jr