Hospice, also known as comfort care, concentrates on managing pain levels for a terminally ill patient. For those who’ve been diagnosed as having six months or less to live, hospice focuses on providing as much quality of life as possible for the time left. To qualify for hospice care, the patient needs a doctor to officially diagnose the severity of the condition. From there, according to Medicare, there are four available levels of hospice care.

What are the four levels of hospice care and how do they apply to a patient? Here’s a look at the basics:

  1. At-Home/Routine Care: The most basic kind of hospice care, routine home care can involve anything from skilled nursing service to various kinds of therapy. Typical services include pain management, symptom management, counseling for the patient and family, nutritional services, help with daily tasks, and therapies. This service is for homebound individuals with Medicare part A and B whose doctor has ordered the needed services.
  2. Continuous Home Care: In situations where a patient needs more intense support, continuous home care offers a higher level of caregiving, for at least eight hours each day. This may be in response to a medical crisis or because a patient requires more involved management. In continuous home care, the hospice personnel focus on managing acute medical symptoms. A patient might be dealing with severe vomiting, shortness of breath, panic attacks or some other unrelieved pain. Whatever the case, at least half the care in this type of hospice must be provided by a trained nurse.
  3. General Inpatient Care: Sometimes a patient’s needs cannot be adequately managed in the home environment. In these situations, various inpatient facilities provide a setting for continuous hospice care, from a nursing home to an inpatient unit of a hospital to a facility owned and operated by a hospice company. Here, patients can have round-the-clock care from nurses to provide medication, treatment and support as needed. Typically, the goal is to return the patient to enough stability to go home, if possible.
  4. Respite Care: Some patients have family members or other loved ones providing the bulk of their care, but those caregivers need a break for one reason or another. In these situations, respite care can provide an invaluable temporary substitute, for up to five days.

Whether you have a dying loved one who needs more support or you’re a caregiver wanting a respite for a few days, hospice care can make a world of difference. The end-of-life journey is a sacred one, deserving of respectful care and support.

At Wellsprings Home Care, that is exactly what we provide — through respite care and in-home caregiving. Come to us for compassionate, professional, non-medical home care services. To learn more about the different levels of hospice care we are able to provide, schedule a free consultation anytime.