When you have a loved one who is deteriorating in health, you’ll inevitably come across some terms you’re not familiar with. Two terms that you’ll probably hear frequently are home health and hospice (sometimes called home hospice). Unfortunately, these two terms get used interchangeably a lot, which adds to the confusion. Home health and hospice refer to two very different services for two very different scenarios.
A patient receives home health services when they need occasional medical services. This can include: physical therapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy, or nursing care. The patient’s doctor will be in charge of overseeing treatment from the various members of the home health team. Regardless of the treatment provided, all progress will be carefully documented to chart any improvement or decline in the health of the patient.
Home health care can be provided for as long as the doctor in charge feels it is working. Once the doctor feels the patient is no longer responding well to home health care, they will recommend the patient be transferred into the care of a hospice provider. This transition isn’t an abrupt or sudden change, often there’s an overlapping period when the home health and hospice agencies are working together to ensure a smooth transition.
In order to qualify for hospice care, a patient must have a diagnosis of less than six months from a certified doctor. In most situations, hospice care will be provided at a patient’s home from a Medicare-certified provider. A hospice care team will of some combination of a: social worker, doctor, chaplain, bereavement specialist, volunteer, nurse, and hospice aid.
Although hospice patients are required to have a six-month prognosis, patients can receive care for longer than six months if their physician continues to give a limited life expectancy prognosis. Another big difference between hospice and home health is that Medicare can cover 100% of hospice costs including personal care and equipment, and hospice is available for 24/7 care.
We hope this clears up some confusion, and we hope you’ll consider using Cura-HPC when the time comes for one of your loved ones to enter hospice care.