Home health care, palliative care & hospice
Home health care
The main mission of home health care is rehabilitation, usually after hospitalization. Home health care also provides skilled nursing care to monitor symptoms of illness; monitor blood pressure, fluid status or blood glucose; give education about therapy and make sure medications are being taken properly.
Many aspects of home health care may be covered by Part A Medicare.
Palliative care does not cure the disease. It simply aims to eliminate physical and emotional discomfort to enable a deeper focus on living. Check with your insurance company to see if palliative care is covered. Any person, of any age, with any type of cancer, at ANY stage, may receive palliative care.
Hospice care provides humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that theymay live as fully and comfortably as possible. Itworks to ensure that one approaches the end of life with confidence, peace, comfort and dignity. This focuses on quality rather than length of life and is used when one’s life expectancy is approximately 6 months or less, if the illness runs its predicted course. Hospice care is focused on comfort and support for the patient and the whole family.
Home hospice is care at home, and is themost common form of hospice. In home hospice, a family member or close friend serves as the primary caregiver and is responsible for overseeing most of the care. For others without this support, organized care programs can lend a helping hand. Hospitals, independent hospices, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are all other potential hospice care options.
Hospice model of care
The hospice philosophy embraces the general principle of a comfortable death with dignity. The care and treatment provided are based on the patient’s and family’s goals and values.
Hospice teams can include doctors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, pastoral workers, volunteers; and speech, physical and music therapists.
You, your family and your doctors decide when hospice care should begin, and you and your family can start the conversation.
Hospice care provides:
• Pain and symptom control
• Supervision of care at home or in a facility
• Spiritual care
• Coordinated family meetings
• Bereavement care for grieving loved ones after a loss
Finding hospice providers
• Ask your doctor.
• Contact the local Department of Health to get a list of licensed agencies.
• Call the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at 800-658-8898 to get information on hospice programs in your area. For help 24 hours a day, contact the American Cancer Society’s National Cancer Information Center, 800-227-2345
Questions to ask potential hospice providers
• Is the agency certified and licensed by a nationally recognized group, such as The Joint Commission?
• Does Medicare certify it?
• Is the program licensed?
• Does the agency have the necessary consumer information such as outline of services, eligibility rules, costs, payment procedures, employee job descriptions and malpractice/liability insurance?
• Are individual care plans created for each new patient?
• Does the agency require you to have a primary caregiver as a condition of admission?
• Are there positive references on file about the home care staff
• How does the agency handle payment and billing?
• Does the agency have a 24-hour telephone number to call with issues? Is there an emergency plan?
• What are the inpatient care policies and how do they differ from services offered in the home?
• How quickly can you start hospice care?