November is National Home Care and Hospice Month. This month is dedicated to honoring the professionals who work in the home care and hospice field. There are four different types of hospice care, with each one requiring an immense number of skillsets, both physical and emotional. Home care and hospice nurses, physicians, aides, social workers, physical therapists, and more help hospice patients live and pass comfortably and with dignity. The four hospice care levels are routine home care, continuous home care, general inpatient care, and respite care.
Level 1: Routine Home Care
Routine home care is a plan set up with the family and patient for scheduled visits from a hospice team. These are reoccurring visits that happen at least once a week. This allows the patient to be comfortable in their own home while having access to home medical equipment, medications, personal supplies, therapy, 24/7 on-call nurses, and their family members close by. Routine home care is the most common form of hospice care. The frequency of the visits fluctuates depending on the severity of the illness or the need for care.
Level 2: Continuous Home Care
Continuous home care is a little more extreme, with care being needs for at least 8 – 24-hour periods. Continuous home care is during times of crisis where large amounts of care are needed. Continuous home care is necessary when a nurse must provide 50% of care for the patient. Some symptoms where continuous home care would be required is unrelieved pain, shortness of breath, anxiety or panic attacks, severe nausea and vomiting, and/or a breakdown in the primary caregiver support system.
Level 3: General Inpatient Care
General inpatient care is moved from the home to an inpatient facility. This type of care is used when short-term symptoms cannot be adequately treated at home, or the patient or family members feel the patient is more comfortable getting treatment at a facility. With inpatient care, the nursing staff is already in the building and provides around the clock care with treatments, medications, physical and emotional support.
Level 4: Respite Care
Respite care is for the comfort of the patient, but also more so the family members. If family members are the primary caregivers to a patient, and they are either having a difficult time or feel more comfortable with a healthcare professional providing treatment, respite care may be the best option. Patients are temporarily put into respite care as there is a five-day limit for their stay. This gives the family members a break to help maintain the stress that comes along with home care for their loved ones.
Home care professionals provide a tremendous amount of support and comfort to hospice patients. They go out of their way to make sure patients are comfortable and dignified while under their care. Take this month to thank a home care professional, as well as the family members who take on the physical and mental toll of taking care of a hospice patient.