HOSPICE CARE

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WHAT IS HOSPICE CARE?

Typically, hospice care services and facilities in Phoenix, AZ are reserved for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less who are transitioning into their last months. It is common for hospice patients to be suffering from a terminal illness or serious health condition, such as heart failure or cancer.

As soon as it becomes clear that curing the condition and prolonging the patient's life is no longer the best option, hospice care is implemented as a means to maximize the patient's quality of life and provide family support.

WHO IS HOSPICE CARE FOR?

A hospice patient will receive care from a team of professionals (and sometimes volunteers) who work together to ensure the patient's comfort through the end stages of their lives. There may be a combination of doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, and religious leaders. It is common for hospice care services to include medical, emotional, and spiritual support for patients. In addition, hospice care services can include support for their families as they care for their loved ones in their last days. Hospice care aims to affirm the patient's life until the very end, approaching death as a natural event.

There is a misconception that hospice care means a lower standard of medical care for your loved one. In place of doing everything possible to make the patient comfortable, the focus of medical care simply shifts.

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WHAT ARE HOSPICE CARE SERVICES?

The following services are generally provided:

  • Appropriate medical care, including pain management and symptom control as necessary

  • 24/7 access to hospice care team members

  • Medical equipment and supplies needed

  • Family counseling and support, assisting the family with emotional and spiritual issues associated with the impending death of a loved one

  • Guidance in dealing with the practical aspects of losing a loved one

  • Family and caregiver respite care

  • Providing assistance with meal preparation, errands, and other everyday tasks

  • Grief counseling after the loss of a loved one

WHAT ARE THE FOUR LEVELS OF HOSPICE CARE?

Traditionally, hospice care is categorized into four distinct levels, a system developed by Medicare. Hospice patients may pass through all four levels during their stay or may stay in just one level until the end of their lives depending on their situation.

The following four levels of hospice care must be provided by every hospice care service or facility certified by Medicare:

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LEVEL ONE: ROUTINE HOME CARE

  • Routine home care is the first and most basic form of hospice care, and may also be referred to as routine nursing home care for patients living in nursing homes. As part of this level of care, you will receive:

    • Medical care and services provided by physicians and nurses

    • Social services

    • Counseling (including spiritual, religious, and bereavement)

    • Therapy services

    • Home health care

    • Medications, equipment, and supplies

    • Diagnostic studies as needed for a terminal diagnosis

LEVEL TWO: CONTINUOUS HOME CARE

This level provides patients with access to a nurse or home health aide in their home environment from 8 to 24 hours a day. As a general rule, continuous home care is intended as a short-term solution, and its necessity is reevaluated every 24 hours.

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LEVEL THREE: INPATIENT CARE

Some hospice patients may not be able to stay at home due to short-term symptoms. A temporary transfer to an inpatient facility may be necessary in these situations. Having nurses available round-the-clock makes inpatient care more comfortable for patients, both emotionally and medically. Patients may receive hospice care in a free-standing hospice facility, in a hospital's inpatient hospice unit, or in a nursing home's hospice unit.

LEVEL FOUR

Those patients who are not eligible for inpatient or continuous care services may be able to receive respite care to get a break from the stress of caring for them and their families. If the patient's family needs time to recover from stress or deal with various personal circumstances, they can be admitted to an inpatient facility for up to five days.

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