A terminal diagnosis is devastating news for any family.
People often worry about how to make their loved one’s final days more comfortable. This is where hospice care can be a big help.
Hospice ensures that patients and their families receive compassionate palliative care from qualified physicians, registered nurses and other professionals. About 80% of hospice patients pass away either at home or in a nursing facility. Others receive care in other in-patient settings, such as stand-alone hospice centers or hospitals. Let’s take a closer look at these options.
Hospice Home Care
As noted above, most patients receive hospice care in the comfort of their own homes. Those who live in assisted living communities or nursing homes may be considered home patients, if that is their permanent residence.
The hospice care team includes doctors, nurses, home health aides and other professionals who provide critical services for patients and caregivers. Team members check in regularly to assist with symptom control, medications, personal care and other tasks. An on-call nurse is available to answer questions 24 hours a day, make home visits and send appropriate team members when necessary.
Medicare recognizes two levels of care in a home setting: Routine Home Care and Continuous Home Care.
Routine Home Care
Routine Home Care is the basic level of care for homebound patients. It includes intermittent visits from nurses, home health aides and other members of the hospice team.
Patients receive medical supplies for use at home, such as wheelchairs and medications for pain and other symptoms. Other services may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and social services.
Continuous Home Care
Continuous Home Care is available for patients who require professional care for at least 8 hours in a 24-hour period. Hospice team members spend more time in the patient’s home to achieve palliation or to manage acute symptoms.
Symptoms that may call for continuous care include the following:
- Unrelieved pain
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Panic attacks
- Breakdown in caregiver support system
In-Patient Hospice Care Facilities
In-patient care is appropriate for patients with severe symptoms that cannot be adequately controlled in a home setting. It is often chosen by those who don’t have family caregivers available close by. It may also be used on a temporary basis until the patient is able to return home.
Professional nurses are close by around the clock, with medications, treatments and social support close at hand on a continuous basis. Care may be provided in stand-alone hospice facilities, hospitals or nursing homes.
Sometimes caregivers need a break to tend to their own needs, go to work, or to take care of other responsibilities. Respite care often involves temporary admission to an in-patient unit, where the patient can still get the care they need.
Respite services may also include in-home visits from care professionals or adult day care programs. It’s an excellent way to avoid caregiver burnout and relieve stress for patients and families.
There are many things to consider when choosing a setting for hospice care. First of all, how does the patient feel overall? Can their symptoms be managed in a home setting, or would they benefit from care provided by an in-patient facility? Can the patient’s home accommodate medical equipment such as a hospital bed, ventilator, wheelchairs, bedside commode and other items?
Also, consider the needs and capabilities of the primary caregiver. Are they physically and emotionally able to provide the care their loved one needs when a professional is not present? Do they have to work long hours, or spend time taking care of children? Can the primary caregiver rely on other family members or friends to step in when they can’t be there?
If you’re looking for hospice care services, please reach out to us at Crown Hospice. We offer compassionate home hospice care that includes nursing and physician services, pain management, personal care and spiritual support.