What is a Hospice?
A hospice is a type of long term care facility that provides comfort measures, through a team of trained professionals, for terminally ill patients throughout the duration of their life limiting illness. Generally viewed as a holistic approach, hospice care is typically utilized in the treatment of the terminally ill, i.e. lung disease, heart disease, many forms of cancer, liver or kidney failure, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In addition to this dedicated care, these specialized care facilities are sometimes associated with and administered by larger hospitals and healthcare systems, which not only will provide more access to trained medical professionals, but also access to top of the line technology and up to date treatment methods.
There are several different types of hospices: home care, continuous care, inpatient setting and respite care. In home care situations, the hospice care facility sends a medical professional to the home (or otherwise designated residence) of the patient for treatment. Continuous care is similar, but different. With continuous care, patients receive in home care on a short-term basis that is provided through a structured schedule.
For inpatient setting care, the patient is also treated offsite from the care facility; however, they are treated at a specifically designated treatment facility contracted by the care facility. The existence of certain criteria such as psychosocial problems must be present in order for the patient to qualify for this time of care. Lastly, respite care is designated for patients who not only require short-term care, but also have a primary caregiver. In such cases, the respite care professional merely provides a break or relief for the primary caregiver, per a schedule of no more than five consecutive days.
Other Factors to Consider
In addition to noting the fact that your loved one will receive the necessary medical care that will comfort them in their time of need, there are additional factors to consider when choosing a hospice. Namely, be sure to check the extensiveness of the care team. You will want as many medical professionals on board with the treatment of your loved one as possible as this often guarantees a comprehensive program. Hospices associated with larger hospitals often have this feature. Also, be sure to check that the prospective care facility accepts various forms of reimbursement including Medicare and Medicaid and will continue to provide care should your loved one outlives their life expectancy.