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What Is the Difference Between Hospice and Home Health Care?

Hospice vs. Home Health Care vs. Nursing Homes: Which Does My Loved One Need?

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care seeks to make patients as comfortable as possible after being diagnosed with a life-limiting disease. Hospice care utilizes palliative care and other pain management techniques to reduce symptoms of the illness.

Hospice care takes place in the last six months of a patient’s life, as estimated by a healthcare professional. If the patient outlives the estimated timetable, they can be recertified as needed. 

However, hospice doesn’t just focus on the patient’s physical comfort but also mental, emotional, and spiritual comfort. Many hospice care providers offer caregiver and spiritual support services in addition to palliative care. A hospice care team can consist of several members, including: 

  • A medical director is an overseeing physician who usually specializes in geriatric or palliative care. They oversee your loved one’s pain management medication plan.
  • A hospice nurse will visit on at least a weekly basis, if not more, to administer medication and evaluate the patient’s status.
  • A social worker can help your loved one make sure all of their end-of-life documentation is in order and help facilitate other essential patient affairs. 
  • Home health aides assist the patient with basic but essential tasks like personal care and movement.
  • Chaplains provide spiritual support for your loved one if desired. They help patients with prayer, scripture, song or other spiritual activities. 
  • Volunteers can help you and your loved one with basic errands and chores around the house. Their goal is to reduce strain on patient caregivers. 

What is Home Health Care?

Home health care is a range of services that help a patient recover from an illness or injury. Home health teams coordinate to administer care to the patient at their home with regular visits. 

The patient’s doctor will build a care plan and assign team members as they see fit. Home health teams can look similar to hospice teams, usually consisting of nurses, therapists, social workers and counselors. 

The most significant difference between home health and hospice is the end goal of care. Hospice makes patients with life-limiting illnesses feel as comfortable as possible. Home health services help the patient recover from their illness or injury.

What Is a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes are generally long-term care facilities designed to help patients with physical and mental health conditions that require constant care and supervision. Living facilities, like nursing homes, can split into several directions. Here are some of the most common examples:

  • Independent living communities are dwellings for retired individuals who can still function independently without medical problems but are close to essential medical services. They help retired individuals keep living on their own with fewer responsibilities than owning a home.
  • Assisted living facilities are dwellings for individuals who require daily care but not a strict level of supervision. 
  • Nursing homes are full-service facilities that provide a wide range of health and personal care services depending on the patient’s needs. Most residents require full-time care for health reasons. 

Reviewing Options: Which One Is Right for My Loved One

Whenever you and your loved one are reviewing options, there are two factors that you should consider: their care needs and financial situation. 

What Medical Care Services Does Your Loved One Need?

If a medical care professional has determined that curative treatment is no longer a viable option for your loved one’s illness, then hospice care is the best option. Hospice care can provide your loved ones with a host of services and durable medical equipment to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Can You Have Hospice and Home Health at the Same Time?

At Crown Hospice, we’ve served patients at home and in assisted care facilities, and we’ve worked with other medical teams to make sure our patients receive the best care. However, home health care is curative in most circumstances, while hospice is dedicated to patient comfort.

If your loved one has severe physical or mental health problems that aren’t life-limiting but require more supervision than a family caregiver can provide, a skilled nursing facility or assisted living residence is the best option. They can receive attentive care around the clock, giving you peace of mind. 

Your loved one may be dealing with a medical condition or recovering from an injury that requires skilled medical assistance, but not at a full-time capacity. Home health care is most likely the best option for them. Much like hospice, a team can come to the patient’s home to check on their condition, perform therapy, administer injections and tend to other needs beyond the scope of a caregiver.

Remember, while we want to give you an overview of services, it’s essential to talk with your loved one’s primary care doctor about their options. They will provide you with advice on which option they think is in the best interest of your loved one. 

Financial Situation

While all of these options serve different needs, your loved one may be weighing the costs and how they will be covered. 

Who Pays for Hospice Care at Home?

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, the Veteran’s Health Administration and most private insurers. Medicare and Medicaid benefits will depend on your state’s rules about hospice coverage. Some hospices, like Crown Hospice, receive funding from donors via a foundation set up specifically to cover costs for non-funded patients.

Home health care coverage depends on factors like your age, condition, health insurance coverage, doctor certification and more. Medicare coverage has several boxes that you need to check to be eligible for coverage.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have the highest cost due to the amount of medical attention and care they provide around the clock. Medicare doesn’t usually cover long-term care facility costs. Long-term facility costs aren’t covered by Medicare because there isn’t a clearly defined end to care. Your loved one will need to rely on Medicaid, long-term care insurance and personal resources.

Once you and your loved one review their options, you need to decide which type of care is best for their situation. Make sure you consult with a medical care professional before making a decision. 

If your loved one’s medical care provider suggests hospice care, contact Crown Hospice of Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff. Our teams are experienced and dedicated to providing excellent care for your loved one. We don’t just administer medical services; we serve our patients to add life to their final days.

Want to learn more about what we offer? Check out our services and frequently asked questions pages for more information.

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