The Best Hospice Care Services for 2021 | #hospice | #elderly | #seniors
What Are Hospice Care Services?
Hospice care services are what a person may utilize if they no longer intend to seek treatments that will cure their illness, such as cancer. Typically, a person may start to receive hospice services when they are determined by a medical professional to have about six months or less to live. However, a person can go into hospice care and then be taken off of it if their condition improves.
According to the American Cancer Society, studies indicate hospice care isn’t started soon enough.
Hospice care services are intended to support a person’s mental, physical, and sometimes spiritual health through the end of their life. Ideally, hospice care allows them to spend their final months and weeks as comfortable as possible and on their own terms. While hospice care is most commonly delivered at home, a person may also receive hospice care services at an inpatient facility, such as an extended-care or inpatient hospice center.
What Types of Care Does a Hospice Service Typically Provide?
Hospice services may include some combination of the following services:
- Coordination of care: A hospice team will help to coordinate care for a person, such as with a doctor, pharmacist, spiritual care advisors, or other medical professionals. This team can ensure a person has the equipment, medications, and care services they need to be as comfortable as possible.
- Symptom control: This may include pain management medications or other medications and therapies to reduce a person’s discomfort.
- Family meetings: A hospice organization can appoint a nurse or social worker who can communicate with a person’s family regarding a person’s care and outlook. This person may also be a source of support for family members experiencing significant stress levels related to their loved one’s illness.
- Respite care: Hospice care services can help reduce some of the caregiver responsibilities for loved ones. Sometimes, this includes a short-term stay in an inpatient hospice facility.
- Spiritual care: If desired, a person may seek the services of spiritual advisors or counselors who can help a person reflect on their life and assist with any desired religious ceremonies (such as last rites).
Hospices may offer additional services based on the individual company and a person’s care needs.
Does Insurance Cover Hospice Care?
Several insurance policies and plans cover hospice care. Examples of these include:
- Medicare: This is a federal government-funded program for those ages 65 and older and those with disabilities and certain medical conditions, such as end-stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Medicaid: Medicaid is a federal/state partnership whose coverage levels vary by state. Medicaid services are provided based on need—individuals with lower incomes may qualify.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: VA benefits include those for hospice care.
- Private insurance: Many private insurance companies offer a hospice benefit. How much this benefit pays may vary based on the policy type.
If you or a loved one does not have insurance, hospice companies may be able to offer free or reduced-cost services. These companies may receive grants or community support to be able to provide hospice care.
Is a Visiting Nurse the Same as a Hospice Nurse?
When a hospice nurse comes to a person’s home, they may be considered a visiting or home health nurse. However, not all home health nurses are hospice nurses. Hospice nurses provide care to those who are at the end of their lives. Home health nurses may provide care to a person who needs nursing services, such as wound care, drawing blood samples, or performing other skilled nursing services.
Hospice nurses are trained in caring for those who are near the end of their life. This training is often practical, on-the-job experience and extra education they may pursue or that their company offers.
How Long Does Hospice Care Last?
In 2018 the average length of time Medicare patients received hospice care was 93 days at private residences, which is where 55.6 percent of services were located. Some people receive hospice care for a longer time and some receive it for less. Doctors or patients themselves cannot fully predict the end of their life—but they can make the best estimate of how long a person may have to live, and help to keep them comfortable.
How We Chose the Best Hospice Care Services
We reviewed more than 30 hospice care services before narrowing our selections down. Selection criteria included considerations of the company itself, including length of time in operation, hospice market share, and locations served in the United States. We reviewed satisfaction rankings and benchmarks from Medicare, employee satisfaction, and customer satisfaction results. Finally, we considered services offered, website navigability, and customer service accessibility.