If you or a loved one have been dealing with an illness for a while, the words “hospice care” may strike your heart with fear and sadness. You may feel overwhelmed or out of your element as you hear new terms and definitions, but that’s okay. Take a deep breath. You will learn what you need to know.
To help you get started, we’re going to discuss the four main places hospice care is provided, so you know what the options are and can discuss them with your hospice care team.
The Purpose of Hospice Care
Before we begin, it’s important to realize that the hospice team is designed to support and guide the family as they care for a loved one during his or her final days. Family members (and friends) are the main source of care for the patient at home, but the hospice staff is available to help with additional care needs, including pain management and symptom relief. The ultimate goal of hospice care is to allow a person to die comfortably and with dignity at home, surrounded by people they love.
Now, let’s get started.
4 Places Where You Can Receive Hospice Care
Every hospice program is designed to give you access to a team of care professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter where that care is provided.
In general, care is provided at your “home,” wherever that home may be. However, as your specific needs and the severity of symptoms change, the place of care may change as well. Your hospice care team can help you determine which place may be the best option for your current health situation.
To learn more about the four levels of care that hospice provides and how each level may affect where you or a loved one receive care, make sure to read “What are the Four Levels of Hospice Care?”
With that said, let’s talk about where you can receive hospice care.
1. At a Personal Residence
The most common place to receive hospice care is at a personal residence. This may mean a house, apartment, duplex, townhome, condo, etc. The hospice care team – made up of medical professionals, aides, and volunteers – will drop by for scheduled visits to check on the patient’s condition.
Most often, the hospice care team does not provide around-the-clock supervision – that responsibility falls on the family – but when needed, a hospice care member may stay for longer visits or even overnight.
2. At an Assisted Living or Nursing Home Facility
For some people, home may be an assisted living facility or nursing home. In this case, the facility may have specially trained nursing staff to care for hospice patients. Alternatively, they might decide to partner with a hospice provider in the area. For terminally ill patients who don’t have someone to care for them at home, an assisted living or nursing home facility is a good option.
A Quick Note Before We Move On
With hospice care, the primary goal is to allow a person to receive care in their own home. However, there are times when care at home isn’t enough. For these cases, you can receive hospice care at the following places instead.
3. At an Independent Hospice Facility
In some cases, your hospice provider may have its own independent facility or “hospice house.” With its home-like atmosphere, a hospice house provides a comfortable place for in-patient, short-term stays when a patient needs around-the-clock care and supervision.
For the most part, a patient may stay at a hospice house if their symptoms have worsened and cannot be managed at home or they have requested respite care to give family members a break.
4. At the Hospital
At times, it may be necessary to receive hospice care while at the hospital. Depending on how the hospital has it set up, the patient may receive care:
- In a special hospice unit
- From a hospice team that visits patients on any nursing unit, or
- The medical staff at the patient’s current unit will act as the hospice team
Like a hospice house, there are two main reasons a person may receive hospice care at a hospital.
- Either pain and symptoms have progressed to the point of becoming unmanageable at home, or
- The family has coordinated respite care for a few days
The patient will return to at-home hospice care after respite care is complete or they feel comfortable enough to return home.
Remember that you should always consult your insurance provider before making a change to the place of care. Most hospice benefits do not usually cover the cost of housing a patient in a nursing home or assisted living facility (also known as daily room and board costs), but these costs may be covered by traditional Medicare benefits or other benefits you have.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of your options and can confidently converse with your hospice care team about your needs as they change.