Hospice isn’t one-size-fits-all for patients with life-limiting illnesses. A hospice plan providing comfort, dignity and support is built around a patient’s individual needs. Hospice providers like Heart to Heart Hospice meet those needs with four different levels of care, in alignment with the Medicare hospice benefit.

The hospice care team and the patient’s physician determine the best level of care. As you consider if it’s the right time for hospice, it’s important to understand the levels of hospice care for which you may qualify. Patients may also require differing levels of care during their hospice journey.

Routine In-Home Hospice

Routine home hospice, the most common level of support, is provided wherever the patient calls home  – a private residence, a nursing home or residential facility. It includes a team of healthcare professionals, such as nurses, social workers, and aides, who work together to manage pain, symptoms, and provide emotional support to the patient and their family.

When is it used?

  • Patients who prefer to receive care in the place they call home.
  • When the patient’s symptoms are manageable in the home environment.
  • With regular visits by the hospice team (nurse, aide, social worker, chaplain and volunteers).

Continuous Home Hospice Care

Continuous home care is provided only during a period of crisis as necessary to maintain a patient at home. When a patient experiences severe pain or symptoms that require around-the-clock attention, this level of care ensures that a healthcare professional is present in the patient’s home for an extended period of time per day, providing intensive symptom management and support.

When is it used?

  • When the patient’s condition suddenly worsens, and symptom management becomes challenging.
  • To prevent hospitalization or to provide an alternative to inpatient care.
  • Temporary, short-term care until symptoms are stabilized.

General Inpatient Hospice Care

Inpatient hospice care is provided when a patient needs short-term management of pain or symptoms that cannot be controlled at home. The patient is transferred to a contracted nursing facility, hospital, or inpatient hospice unit, where a team of healthcare professionals address complex medical issues and symptom management. When the symptoms are controlled, the patient may return home.

When is it used?

  • When the patient’s symptoms become too severe to manage at home or through routine hospice care.
  • To provide specialized medical interventions, such as pain control or symptom relief.
  • Temporary care until symptoms are under control, and the patient can return home or to routine hospice care.

Respite Care

Respite care is provided to hospice patients when their family caregivers need time away from caregiving responsibilities or have an urgent situation requiring a respite stay. Patients may receive care in a contracted facility or hospice inpatient unit for up to five days. For families that need long-term placement versus a temporary respite stay, they may choose to pay out of pocket for room and board in an inpatient facility and receive routine home care.

When is it used?

  • When family caregivers need a break from caregiving responsibilities.
  • To prevent caregiver burnout.
  • Typically used for a brief period, such as up to five days. You can use respite more than once, but if the patient really needs long-term placement, the hospice team can assist in finding a facility that works for the patient and family.

If you want to learn more about the different levels of hospice care for yourself or a family member, you can find a Heart to Heart location near you or refer a loved one to our services.