Doctor holding hands Asian elderly woman patient, help and care in hospital.

Hospice vs Home Care

Perhaps you have a loved one with a life-limiting condition who desires to be made comfortable with pain medications but does not want drastic treatment regimes that would do little more than extend life for a brief period. Hospice is a solution to this scenario. According to the Hospice Foundation of America, hospice care provides an “interdisciplinary team of professionals trained to address physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of the person.” Even more than that, hospice also provides support for family members and other “intimate unpaid caregivers” of the patient. 

However, hospice care doesn’t take care of all of the needs you and your loved one may have. In-home care can fill that gap. Many people are unaware that home care can go hand in hand with hospice care, but the two are not mutually exclusive at all.

Read on for a brief summary of each of these programs.

Hospice Care:

  • Designed to be a compassionate way of supporting someone with a life-limiting illness. It provides pain management and emotional, psychological, and even spiritual support. 
  • In 2019, there were 1.61 million hospice care beneficiaries in the United States.
  • A team of professionals designs a plan for the patient that may include nurses, physicians, therapists, social workers, bereavement counselors, and clergy (if wanted). 
  • Can provide medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, oxygen equipment, catheters, bedside commodes, and bandages.
  • Completely covered by Medicare for most patients. They are entitled to two 90-day periods followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. Because no one can predict with 100% accuracy how long a terminally ill person will live or if there will be an unexpected remission or rally, it is acceptable to leave hospice care and then reenter it when it is needed.
  • Many people don’t realize that they can request hospice care even without specific notice that they will die within a certain amount of time. For example, hospice can provide help to patients with chronic heart disease or lung disease. These patients may have pain or breathing issues that cannot be cured, but they do not wish to endure repeated trips to the hospital. 
  • It is necessary to understand that hospice care is not designed for those who can be cured; it is designed for those who can be cared for.
  • Providers are available by phone 24 hours a day but are not constantly with the patient. Medicare requires that a registered nurse evaluate the patient at least once every two weeks, but visits can be 2-3 times a week in the beginning and can increase depending upon the patient’s condition and needs. Visits generally last for one hour.
  • In addition to nurses, other team members may visit, including hospice volunteers.

Home Care:

  • Home care is designed to keep seniors in their homes by providing assistance as needed. Each person’s needs are different, but care can be for as few as 1-2 hours a week or as many as 24 hours a day.
  • When a person is in hospice care, they can also receive home care services to fill in any gaps.
  • Home care is not funded by Medicare.
  • Home care providers cannot administer medications, although they can remind a patient to take medication.
  • Home care providers can prepare meals, provide companionship and entertainment, do light housekeeping, and change bed linens.
  • Hospice typically provides bathing assistance twice a week. An in-home care aid can provide assistance with hygiene as needed in between hospice visits.
  • Unlike hospice visits that are periodic and limited in duration, in-home care can be scheduled for extended periods of time as needed.

There is no either/or argument when it comes to hospice care and home care. A patient in an end-of-life situation often needs hospice care, but home care can provide additional benefits. Both services provide compassionate caregivers who can join forces to help ease a difficult situation with understanding and professionalism.

You can find out more about Shepherd’s Staff’s In-Home Care on our FAQ page. If you would like detailed information about the home care services we can provide for your parent or loved one as they navigate hospice care, please contact Shepherd’s Staff In-Home Care online or by phone at 301-304-9147.   

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