Hospice patient and relative

Many seniors and their families face an important choice for end of life care. A common situation is a discharge from the hospital and a decision for where to go next. While most prefer to go home, extenuating circumstances often make that decision complicated and families end up choosing to place them in a nursing home instead. Here is a detailed look about what should go into this decision between a nursing facility or hospice care received at home for end of life care.

Monitoring versus Comfort

The reason many families believe that a nursing facility is the best choice for their elderly loved one is the belief that they require 24/7 monitoring of vital signs and other round the clock nursing services. In some cases, the individual patient may in fact require these services. But, when providing end of life care, most individuals favor the level of comfort and support provided by in-home hospice care. It’s important to recognize the distinction between the two and choose the option that best fits the individual’s needs. If it is a true end of life situation, comfort should likely be the primary concern, rather than treatment.

The problem with both

There are many examples of patients receiving hospice care while in a nursing home, but this isn’t a viable option for everyone. Taking advantage of both care options is cost-prohibitive for most families. Medicare will cover the cost of a skilled-nursing facility, or the cost of hospice care, for many patients, but only rarely will they cover both at the same time. This means a family will face the cost of the nursing home stay without assistance, which often equals hundreds of dollars per day. Because few families have the means to comfortably afford a care option without any type of assistance, they’re lead back to having to choose one or the other.

Final 6-month study

The National Health and Retirement Study was conducted between 1994 and 2007 and examined more than 5-thousand seniors. All of members of this group studied lived independently before a hospital stay and not in a nursing facility. After their hospital stay or illness necessitated choosing an end of life care option, about a third of them chose to stay at a nursing facility. That group was typically over the age of 85 and near death. More than 40-percent of that group died in the nursing home, while nearly 40-percent died in a hospital. About 10-percent were able to go home before passing away.

Compare that to the rest of the group who decided against a nursing facility. Of that group, more than 40-percent died in their own home. They received professional, dedicated end of life care rather than the expensive, and lower quality care offered by a nursing facility. As a doctor involved in the study pointed out, the nursing facilities aren’t intended to provide end of life care. Instead, they are meant for rehabilitation and the goal is for patients to be able to return home.

For information about hospice care for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Cura-HPC. We provide end of life care that focuses on comfort and support for both the patient and their family.