What is Hospice and Where Do I Find It?

What is hospice and where to find care in Delaware (delawareonline.com)

Everything you need to know about hospice care in Delaware

In light of former President Jimmy Carter, 98, entering hospice care last week, many might be wondering what their local options are and if they are eligible.

In Delaware, various hospice care services are available and can be chosen based on patient and caregiver needs, living preferences and health prognosis.

Here is information about what hospice care is and how people use it:

What is hospice care?

Hospice is comfort care without curative intent, meaning the patient no longer has curative options or has chosen not to pursue treatment due to side effects outweighing the benefits, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging. 

Palliative care offers patients relief from the symptoms and physical and mental stress of a serious or life-limiting illness. Hospice care is typically for patients facing a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live. Palliative care can be pursued at diagnosis, during curative treatment, and also as part of end-of-life care. Hospice care provides resources for both patients and their families, with support services like physicians, social workers, nurses, volunteers and chaplains available. Although hospice care is not intended to prolong life, it is not care that hastens death either.

Who qualifies for hospice care?

Hospice care is usually considered when patients and their loved ones find that treatment for a disease is unsuccessful and the associated effects become unbearable, according to the Hospice Foundation of America.

More than 90% of hospice care is paid for through the Medicare hospice benefit, though some health insurance policies also cover hospice care. Palliative care patients do not have to meet the same Medicare requirements, according to VITAS health care.

Patients typically get a referral to hospice from their doctor.

What does hospice care consist of?

Hospice care is usually provided at home, including a nursing home, private residence or assisted living facility, and can sometimes be provided at a hospital or dedicated hospice facility, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Hospice Foundation of America categorizes the following as part of hospice care, administered on a case-by-case basis:

  • Time and services of the care team, including visits to the patient’s location by the hospice physician, nurse, medical social worker, home health aide, and chaplain/spiritual adviser
  • Medication for symptom control, including pain relief
  • Medical equipment like a hospital bed, wheelchairs or walkers, and medical supplies such as oxygen, bandages, and catheters
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Any other Medicare-covered services needed to manage pain and other symptoms related to the terminal illness, as recommended by the hospice team
  • Short-term inpatient care
  • Short-term respite care for family caregivers to avoid or address caregiver burnout
  • Grief and loss counseling for the patient and loved ones, who may experience anticipatory grief. Grief counseling is provided to family members for up to 13 months after a death.

The level of care provided during hospice depends on patient circumstances and caregiver needs. The most common level of care is routine home care, provided in the home when a patient is generally stable and has adequately controlled symptoms.

General inpatient care is a crisis-like level of care for short-term management of out-of-control patient pain and symptoms. It is usually provided outside the home in an inpatient setting like a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Continuous home care is a crisis-like level of care for short-term management of out-of-control patient pain and symptoms that is usually provided in the home.

Respite care is a level of temporary care provided in nursing homes, hospice inpatient facilities or hospitals so that loved ones can take time off from caregiver duties. This level of care is related to caregiver needs, not patient symptoms.

Delaware hospice services

ChristianaCare – AccentCare Hospice offers hospice and palliative care in all Delaware counties and portions of Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. They can be reached at (866) 443-9856 or by visiting www.accentcare.com.