Hospice at Nursing Homes

5 Essential Benefits of Hospice In a Nursing Home

Hospice care is a type of medical assistance suitable for terminally ill patients expected to live no longer than six months. Although most patients prefer to receive hospice care at home, some of them want to do it in nursing homes.

Most hospice care centers collaborate with nursing homes, which is why this option is also accessible. Hospice care generally provides more opportunities than nursing homes, primarily because it consists of a multidisciplinary team that focuses on critical aspects of a person’s health status – physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Although hospice cannot cure a particular disease, it can significantly help people spend their last days more comfortably and with more dignity. The costs of hospice care are fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and Medi-Cal, which is one of the prevalent advantages and reasons why patients and their families go for it.

What is Hospice Care?

When patients are diagnosed with a terminal disease, and they are expected to live six months or less if the condition follows its ordinary course, they often consider hospice care, convenient for making the last days better and more pleasant. Patients that have cancer, Alzheimer’s, or the latest stage of dementia are usually recommended to start with hospice.

The goal of hospice care isn’t to cure the person’s underlying illness but to reduce the symptoms it causes, allowing the patient to avoid the agony of dying. Hospice teams involve experts in different fields – physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, counselors, and spiritual counselors (ministers, rabbis, imams, etc.), who are there to address distinct aspects of a person’s health status, emotional and spiritual concerns.

Patients and their families are free to choose whether they want to receive hospice care at home, or they want to do it in a nursing home. Still, families should let their loved ones choose the place based on their wishes and preferences.

hospice vs nursing home

What is Hospice Care in a Nursing Home?

Hospice centers allow you to choose the place based on your needs and preferences. It can be a home, an inpatient facility, hospital-based hospices, or nursing home. Inpatient facilities are suitable for patients that can’t provide a caregiver that would supervise them 24/7 and need on-site medical assistance.

Most hospice centers collaborate with nursing homes in different areas, and it’s critical to ask a local nursing home to recommend the services of the programs they work with. That way, you will go through the process much more comfortable.

Hospice vs Nursing Home

It’s critical to make a difference between hospice care and a nursing home. The first and the most vital difference lies in the fact that hospice care is a service, while the nursing home is a facility where hospice can be received.

Nursing homes provide 24/7 care from licensed healthcare professionals that make sure the needs of all the seniors are addressed. The services also include meals, cleaning, and medical care aimed at helping patients that can no longer take care of themselves or perform daily tasks.

Hospice care, on the other hand, helps patients spend their last days as comfortable as they can. It doesn’t aim at curing the illness, which can be the case with nursing homes that may help the patient recover.

When hospice is received in nursing homes, a patient is regularly visited by a specialized medical team that’s always ready to assist both patients and their families. Note that a person must give up aggressive treatments even if he/she chooses to stay at a nursing home while receiving hospice care.

What Does Hospice Do In a Nursing Home?

Even though a patient is not accommodated at home while receiving hospice care, a specialized hospice team will help their families and the nursing home staff by providing the following services:

  • Regular and scheduled visits by the registered nurse to the nursing home where the patient is.
  • Consultations with a designated physician whenever it’s needed
  • Symptom and pain management, including help with breathing or swallowing.
  • Education and training for nursing home staff, patients, and their families, who should become familiar with a patient’s condition, symptoms, medicines, and learn how to provide the best care during the final stage of a person’s illness
  • Emotional and spiritual support for both patients and families during the most challenging phase of their life. Besides, families will get grieving support once their loved one has passed away
  • Provides medicines and supplies related to a patient’s terminal illness.
  • Coordinating the patient’s care and treatments together with their doctors, hospice doctors, hospice nurses, aides, and the nursing home staff.

A nursing home is also responsible for providing particular types of services to the patient’s care, and such services include:

  • Communication with the hospice team and coordination of the patient’s care.
  • Monitoring a patient’s condition and reporting any changes to the hospice team
  • The routine daily care for patients
  • Scheduled medical care and examinations performed by physicians and medical directors
  • Providing medicines and supplies that are not related to the patient’s underlying condition.
who pays for hospice care in a nursing home

Who Pays for Hospice Care In a Nursing Home? Does Medicare Cover Hospice Care In a Nursing Home?

Medicare, Medicaid, and Medi-Cal fully cover the costs of hospice care. That said, patients and their families shouldn’t worry about durable medical equipment and drugs, which will be paid by federal insurance programs for terminally ill patients.

Before you enroll in the hospice program, it’s recommended to check whether you’re eligible for Medicare coverage. Most Medicare-certified hospices will require proof issued by a physician that claims that the patient is terminally ill and expected to live no longer than six months.

Depending on your terminal illness and related conditions, Medicare will cover some of the following services or all of them:

benefits of hospice in a nursing home
  • Doctor services and nurse care
  • Medical equipment (wheelchairs or walkers) and medical supplies (bandages or catheters)
  • Drugs for symptom management or pain relief prescribed by your physician
  • Hospice aide and homemaker services
  • Physical and occupational therapy services
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Social work services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Bereavement counseling for the family once the patient passes away
  • Short-term inpatient care for pain and symptom control
  • Short-term respite care (for caregivers that provide hospice at home)
  • Any other services recommended by your hospice team.

Note that Medicare may not cover all the services. The most common exclusions are:

  • Aggressive treatments aimed at curing your terminal illness and related conditions
  • Drugs prescribed to cure your illness
  • Room and board if you receive care at home or an inpatient facility. These costs may be covered if the hospice team determines that you need short-term inpatient or respite services.
  • Care you get as a hospital outpatient (emergency room), hospital inpatient, or ambulance transportation.

It’s essential to go through the plan in detail and even contact Medicare to see whether all the critical costs of the hospice care are covered. Since Medicare Hospice Benefit doesn’t include the costs of housing patients in a nursing home or another living facility, check whether traditional Medicare benefits can kick in. You may also expect certain copayments.

5 Essential Benefits of Hospice In a Nursing Home

Giving up curative treatments and letting the illness follow its ordinary course is not always accepted by family members of a person that decides to do so. It’s never pleasant to deal with the death of your loved one, but sometimes we must understand that they cannot recover despite the treatments.

When patients are told that they have six months or less left to live, they want to make sure they spend these days in the best way possible. Hospice care can significantly improve the quality of their remaining time and allow them to spend the precious moments surrounded by their friends, families, and hospice staff that does its best to provide the highest level of care and support to both patients and their family members.

Benefits of hospice in a nursing home are numerous, but we’ve put the 5 most distinguished ones that will change your opinion about hospice care:

1.      Flawless Communication and Coordination Between Teams

To make sure patients are well taken care of, the hospice team maintains regular and well-planned communication and coordination with nursing home staff, which is responsible for monitoring a patient’s condition and symptoms. If they notice any changes, they immediately report them to the hospice team that makes further plans.

The patient’s family is also included in the communication, and they are always up to date with the health status of their loved one.

2.      Families Can Relax

One of the most common reasons why people go for hospice care in a nursing home is the inability of the family to take care of the patient and be with them around the clock. Work and other factors may keep family members from dedicating their time to their loved ones at home, which is why they agree to receive care in a nursing home or another inpatient facility.

Families can relax, knowing that their loved one is in good hands. They will be informed about the patient’s condition, they can visit at any time, and they are more than welcome to make appointments with support groups to express their feelings and get rid of stress and emotional burden.

what does hospice do in a nursing home

3.      Family Support

One of the essential advantages of hospice care is family support, aimed at helping families overcome the emotionally difficult period and accept death as the normal course of life. Hospice teams include support groups and volunteers that are always ready to address the concerns of the families, counsel them, and offer help regarding chores and running errands.

4.      Interdisciplinary Approach

The nucleus of hospice care is a holistic approach that addresses all the critical spheres of a person’s physical and emotional health. Doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and chaplains are always there to help the patient reduce pain and stress, and encourage them to express their thoughts, worries, fears, and spiritual concerns they might have.

Emotional support is a fundamental part of hospice care, and it helps it fulfill its primary goal – addressing the patient’s emotional and mental sides and helping them spend their last days in the best and the most pleasant way possible.

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5.      A Chance to End Your Life with Dignity

Due to severe symptoms of pain and stress, as well as thoase that prevent them from performing daily activities and practical tasks, residents are often concerned about how they look in the eyes of their families.

The task of hospice care is to listen to the patient’s needs and wishes and do its best to fulfill them. Therefore, a patient has his/her chance to end life with dignity and spend time surrounded by friends and family and not dealing with medical procedures associated with hospital care.

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