There are four levels of hospice care that all Medicare-certified providers must offer. Hospice patients and families can choose the type of care that works best for them, based on the patient’s needs and preferences.
The four levels of care are:
- routine care
- continuous care
- inpatient care
- respite care
Patients and their families may prefer one level of care over another. Whereas many prefer care in the comfort of their own home, many others feel more comfortable knowing they have close 24/7 support from a nursing staff with inpatient care. The severity of the patient’s symptoms and how often care is needed also play a large role in the most appropriate level of hospice care.
1. Routine Home Care
Routine home care for hospice patients is covered by Medicare part A and B. It is for patients who have tolerable symptoms that do not require around-the-clock management. The services a patient may receive under routine home care include nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pathology services, medical equipment and medical supplies for use at home. Routine home care allows hospice patients to receive the support and medical care they need without leaving their home. This allows them to keep their daily routine as similar as possible while receiving hospice care.
2. Continuous Care
Continuous hospice care is for patients with a more severe need for symptom management and palliative care. In many instances, patients who require continuous care level are dealing with acute symptoms. Continuous care is often available overnight, meaning a nurse may stay in the home and monitor the symptoms overnight. In some instances, continuous care is offered as a way to assist the patient and their family if the patient is actively dying. For example, a patient may require continuous care if they are dealing with temporary nausea and vomiting. Other examples of times when continuous care may be needed include when pain does not improve through routine hospice care or when panic attacks and other types of severe anxiety occur.
3. General Inpatient Care
Sometimes, severe pain or other symptoms require an advanced level of care that is more effectively provided during a short stay in an inpatient hospice facility. If your loved one’s needs intensify, the hospice team may recommend this level of hospice care and transferring your loved one to the inpatient level of care at The Samaritan Center at Voorhees or Mount Holly. The goal of inpatient hospice care is to control severe pain and symptoms so that your loved one can return home to their family and familiar surroundings, if possible, and resume routine hospice care at home.
4. Respite Care
It is temporary relief for the primary caregiver.
If the patient is not in an inpatient facility and is not under continuous at-home care and the primary caregiver is not on the hospice staff, then respite care is an option. Respite care is more for the caregiver than it is for the hospice patient. The fact is caring for someone with a terminal illness is demanding. When caregivers feel overwhelmed, they can request respite care. This allows the hospice patient to temporarily check into a care facility for five days or less while the caregiver takes a break. There are no limits or restrictions to the reasons a caregiver may request respite care, and many do so to attend an important event (graduation, wedding, etc.), take a short vacation or simply relax at home and rest.