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Published on July 20, 2021

What is hospice care and what does it involve? This is a type of medical care that is given to individuals that have a terminal illness or those that are coming to the conclusion of their life. Read on to find out more and be informed on what hospice involves.

The Basics of Hospice Care

Hospice is a type of medical care. The goal is to provide management of pain and symptoms to provide comfort to patients that are suffering.

The focus of this type of care goes to the priorities that come with the patient's end of life, which can include emotional as well as spiritual priorities. Those that are in this type of care typically have under half a year left, and so it is especially important that they have the chance to reduce pain as they near the end of their life.               

This type of care does not have the goal of helping patients to survive. The task is simply to provide comfort and care to individuals that are in this condition. While certain care levels have time limits, it’s important to understand that hospice care can be entered into and exited numerous times.

An organization can work with you to prolong the care for the patient depending on the services that you have chosen if the time frame of six months is exceeded, so be sure to look into different services as well as the fine print when deciding.


What Is Involved In Hospice?

There are essentially four different levels to this type of care that must be offered by certified providers (as required by Medicare). The patient's level of care that is chosen will dictate what is involved in their type of care. The four levels are:

Routine Home Care: Offers a part-time nurse, or sometimes home health aides, that visit a patient in their home. This provides added convenience, less stress, and more comfort for the patient.               

Continuous Home Care: Care is conducted in the home more often than the part-time care provided by Routine Home Care. The individual will likely be in more pain and will need care from a nurse for a minimum of eight hours or more throughout a twenty-four hour time period.                   

General Inpatient Care: Takes place in an inpatient setting. Care requirements are more than what can be addressed at the home.                   

Respite Care: When the primary caregiver or family is going through too much stress or needs to take a break from caring for the patient, this is a temporary way to provide respite to the caregivers while ensuring that the patient is still cared for.       

The levels dictate what care is provided, so do your research and see which level and type of care might be best for the person you are caring for. A physician or doctor may be able to prescribe what level of care they feel is best for the patient and may provide insight about what steps to take next with caregivers.               

When Is This Type of Care Necessary to Consider?               

This type of care is usually considered when it is advised by a physician or doctor. They can often see when this is the best choice to make for a patient and will have a conversation with the patient, their family, or a caregiver about whether hospice care should be pursued.               

Generally this care is advised when someone is diagnosed as having a terminal illness, with under 6 months given for them to live. This gives family and friends the chance to research this type of care, find out the available options, and seek out hospices for that next step.               

Some warning signs that you may want to get ready for this type of care may be when you witness the patient having a tough time doing regular tasks of caring for themselves, if they are going to urgent care or the ER a lot, if they want to have better comfort and quality to their life as opposed to having more time but suffering, or if you witness reduced appetite, shortage of breath, more fatigue, and you see that they are in a great deal of pain.

How Is This Type of Care Paid For?

Government programs in the United States like Medicare, Medicaid, and The Veterans Health Administration all help to pay for this type of care, as can private options for health insurance depending on what you have. Certain plans may have eligibility requirements in place.                   

Nonprofit hospices are also in practice, and sometimes they are willing to cover hospice costs for their patients. You can research them online or reach out to a local hospital and find out if they have referrals or more information. Establishing fundraisers online for a loved one for which you are the sole caregiver may be a good idea if the expenses are becoming unmanageable.                   

Is This a Permanent Choice or Can You Leave Hospice Care?       

Patients that go to hospice are typically not expected to survive longer than six months, and their care is addressed to alleviate pain and restore their comfort. You can cease this type of care and opt out after signing up, and if things change, a patient can choose to no longer stay and receive care (they get better, decide they no longer want the care, want to be in their own home, etc.). Generally this type of care is selected because it is necessary and a large percentage of patients continue the care until it is no longer required.

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