Hospice is an important service that helps people maintain the highest levels of dignity and comfort when they have a life-limiting diagnosis. If you or a loved one has a prognosis of 6 months or less, it’s vital to work with medical specialists to maximize the available time.
Many families don’t know a lot about hospice services, which is why this support is often misunderstood. In this article, we share an overview of what hospice is and how hospice works at home.
You can use this information to find the best care plan for yourself or a loved one. Our team at Avatar Healthcare is always here to answer questions and help you design the ideal plan for your unique needs.
Hospice Focuses on Quality of Life
When you hear “hospice services,” what does it bring to mind? Too often, families think that these services are only for the last few days or weeks of a person’s life.
One of the most misunderstood things about hospice is that families assume that these services focus on death. The opposite is true: the purpose of hospice is to help a person live the fullest life possible.
Finding the right care can be a confusing process. But when you choose a provider with a wide range of services, such as Avatar Healthcare, you can find the perfect care plan to support your lifestyle. Our goal is to simplify this experience and optimize the overall services you are receiving.
What is Hospice?
When a person faces a terminal illness, then hospice provides a holistic approach to maximize their quality of life. Not only do these services help with managing discomfort and pain, but the care plan also addresses other vital concerns relating to physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Hospice coordinators work with a team of specialists, carefully designing a plan that matches each patient’s needs and preferences.
For example, the medical services include coordination for ordering and delivering equipment and supplies and setting up systems and services such as medical equipment, medication, and care teams.
The care providers are certified and experienced in hospice care, including doctors, nurses, home health aides, and social workers, who all play their part in a bigger plan.
Not only doesn’t hospice address the needs of each patient, but the team is also looking for ways to help with the patient’s wants as well.
Additionally, hospice cares for the family and caregivers, including resources and grief support when they are facing the loss of a loved one.
Who Can Benefit from Hospice Services?
The goal of hospice is to help someone live their best life possible. However, when a person faces a severe, life-limiting diagnosis, they usually require additional support for daily tasks.
Hospice care is often available for patients with the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- Old age
- Liver disease
- Renal disease
- And more
Specific eligibility requirements need to be met for hospice services to be paid through insurance. A doctor will assist in determining eligibility.
Providers on a Hospice Care Team
Not only is the family helping with caregiving, but skilled providers also come to the home to offer the necessary services. A hospice team may include a variety of providers, such as:
- Nurse practitioners
- Social workers
- Occupational therapists
- Physical therapists
- Speech-language therapists
- Hospice aids
- Home services providers
Attending medical experts supervise your care, with other team members offering the ongoing medical requirements. Additionally, hospice patients always have 24/7 access to medical support as needed.
Hospice Eligibility: What You Need to Know
When determining hospice eligibility, a patient doesn’t need to have specific symptoms. Instead, the doctor looks at the diagnosis and the patient’s overall condition to decide if hospice care is appropriate.
Doctors review standardized information to determine hospice eligibility. Requirements include:
- The person has a life-limiting diagnosis
- The medical prognosis is for six months or less of life remaining, assuming the condition follows the normal progression and course
- Frequent hospitalizations are necessary
- Difficulty with daily living activities, such as toileting, bathing, eating, walking, and dressing
- A decline in overall health, including weight loss, fatigue, and weakness
- A decrease in functional, mental, and cognitive abilities
- Recurring health problems that are contributing to the overall decide
- Comorbidities – the presence of multiple chronic diseases simultaneously
- No longer receiving curative treatment, the care focuses on comfort and lifestyle
This list shows the general requirements medical professionals evaluate for hospice eligibility. Additionally, there are disease-specific requirements that must be assessed to determine whether a person needs hospice care.
Once a patient is eligible for hospice care, the care team can work together to identify specific services needed for this person’s condition.
Keep in mind that hospice eligibility must be determined in the beginning. Then, a doctor needs to re-certify the patient’s eligibility at the beginning of each hospice benefit period.
Where is Hospice Provided: At Home or Another location
The good news is that a patient can stay home and receive hospice care if desired. Hospice is also available for people in assisted living communities or hospitalized.
It’s common for patients to prefer the comfort of staying in their own home during this time. Hospice brings the necessary support and services into the home, helping the person maintain the highest level of comfort and lifestyle during this time.
Hospice Services in the Home
When a patient is receiving hospice services at home, the care plan is customized to the person’s lifestyle and needs.
For example, some people need daily support from the hospice team. Other times, it might be sufficient to have the hospice providers visiting the person at home a few times per month.
As the patient’s health condition and needs change over time, the hospice coordinator will work with the family to adjust the care plan. It is common to start with a little support, then increase the number of days services are provided as the patient’s health declines.
Hospice in the home is ideal for minimizing hospital re-admittance and decreasing the need for a patient to move to another location. In addition, if someone doesn’t want to go to long-term care or a skilled nursing community, then in-home hospice services can cover the gaps that the family cannot provide.
The quality of care for hospice at home is equal (or better) compared to services received in a medical setting. This is because nurses and doctors are well-trained and bring the best quality care to patients at home.
Hospice: Staying at Home as Long as Possible
Hospice in the home allows the family to stay together in the environment they prefer: at home. This integrated care approach is often more comfortable for both the patient and their loved ones.
Sometimes, the hospice care team determines that inpatient care is required. For example, if a patient’s health declines to the point where in-home care is no longer sufficient, there might be a recommendation to move the person to an inpatient provider.
Our hospice team at Avatar Healthcare maintains open communication with each family to determine the optimal treatment plan. If you want to receive hospice in the home, then we will help you design the best care plan to keep the person at home as long as possible.
What Do Hospice Services Include?
Hospice benefits are full-service, which means that you have access to coverage for everything necessary to care for a terminal illness as well as other related health conditions. Therefore, anything that you require for your medical care should be covered through the hospice plan.
When the hospice benefits start, you can access medical care for other health conditions unrelated to the terminal diagnosis. These services may or may not be provided through hospice coverage specifically. But patients usually have insurance benefits to cover everything that is needed.
Timing: The Ideal Timeline for Hospice Services
Families need to know that hospice services are often available much earlier than most people realize. Even if your loved one is still mobile and can move around the house, there are still many benefits for bringing in a hospice care team.
In fact, the right hospice services can prolong a person’s life and help them find the most enjoyment during this important time with family.
While the general timeline is to receive hospice during the final six months, some people receive services for a longer or shorter period of time. Doctors do their best to determine a person’s prognosis, but the situation can change with time.
Hospice through Medicare is structured to give patients two periods of 90-day benefits. Then, an unlimited number of 60-day benefit periods follow as needed.
When the benefit periods change, then you have the option to change hospice providers, if desired.
Can You Discontinue Hospice Services?
The good news is that there is no requirement to continue hospice services if the patient’s condition improves.
Starting hospice provides the immediate support you and your loved ones need. Then, you always have the option to discontinue these services if you decide to pursue curative treatments again.
Or, if the person’s health is improving, then you might switch to palliative care and home health instead of a hospice-focused care plan.
If you discontinue hospice care, there is always the option to reinstate services again in the future. However, when it is time to start hospice again, the patient must meet the eligibility requirements before these services resume.
Paying for Hospice Care
One of the greatest benefits of hospice in the home is that these services help reduce the family’s financial stress. This is because the patient needs medical supplies and help with various tasks, and these services are paid for through insurance coverage.
Families and caregivers have multiple options to pay for hospice. Often, patients who qualify for hospice have coverage through Medicaid or Medicare. Or, private insurance companies can also pay for these services.
It’s essential that you check available coverage, so you know how these services will be paid. Additionally, medical eligibility needs to be determined, so the insurance provider has documentation that the person qualifies for hospice services.
Navigating the financial details of a loved one’s care can be a challenge. The best solution is to work with a hospice care team to explore payment options and ensure that all eligibility details are being met.
Contact our staff at Avatar Healthcare to learn more about the cost of hospice and how these services are paid through insurance providers. We offer hands-on support to ensure you can receive the available financial assistance.
Getting Started: Hospice in the Home
If you or a loved one needs hospice services, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a hospice care provider. Next, we consult with your family to learn more about the patient’s needs and wants, then our team designs a personalized care plan.
It’s necessary to complete a medical assessment in the beginning. Not only is this assessment critical for hospice eligibility, but it also gives us more information about the patient’s health conditions.
We also ask for information about medical history, current treatments, and more. The core care team is the patient’s family, but additional hospice support can be brought into the home to alleviate the burden on the caregivers.
The hospice team collaborates together to create a plan that satisfies the patient’s medical needs, as well as other care requirements. Some patients receive occasional hospice visits, such as a nurse who checks on the person’s health a few times a week.
Sometimes, more intensive hospice services are necessary. For example, a person might require around-the-clock monitoring and medical support.
Nurses check in on the patient frequently. If a nurse isn’t in the home when an emergency happens, the family has access to 24/7 support.
Regardless of the frequency of hospice visits in your home, a doctor leads the effort and oversees everything that is happening. Other medical professionals are also an essential part of the team to implement the care plan.
Quality, Personalized Hospice Services at Home
Are you ready to learn more about the benefits of hospice services at home? Then our team is here to help!
Reach out to Avatar Healthcare to learn more about hospice, home health, and personal home care services. Contact us at your convenience: (844) 422-5528.