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Important Information About Hospice and Home Care


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It’s the holidays, and a time of year when no one likes to think about a life-limiting illness, but it’s something everyone must face eventually. There are several resources in our community that provide comfort, dignity and respect to those coping with a serious illness. Often the decision about how to care for a sick loved one will be made by a family caregiver. To support family caregivers, we’re discussing one crucial decision that most family caregivers have to make: choosing long-term care for your loved one. Your doctor will most likely prescribe or recommend the best plan of action for your loved one. However, as a caregiver, you should be educated on your options.

Hospice care and home health care are two options for long-term medical treatment. While they may seem similar, these are two different kinds of treatment plans. Learn the difference between the two and how you can determine which is best for your loved one.

What is hospice?

According to the Hospice Foundation of America, “Hospice offers medical care toward maintaining or improving quality of life for someone whose illness, disease or condition is unlikely to be cured.” Hospice can include a variety of services tailored to the patient to address physical, emotional and spiritual pain associated with terminal illness. Hospice care can be administered in a patient’s private residence, hospital, long-term care facility or nursing home.

Hospice also assists caregivers both during treatment and after death. These services include managing the patient’s care, assisting with daily needs of the patient and offering grief or loss counseling for family members.

Hospice care services may include any of the following.

  • Access to hospice physician, nurse, medical social worker, home health aide and/or chaplain
  • Administration of medication for alleviating symptoms or pain
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Short-term respite care to relieve caregiver
  • Grief and loss counseling for loved ones

What is home health care?

Medicare.gov defines home health care as “a wide range of health care services that can be given in the home for illness or injury.” Unlike hospice care, the goal of home health care is to recuperate and regain independence.

If someone sustains a severe injury or long-term illness, home health care is often a less expensive treatment option than a long-term hospital stay. It also allows individuals to heal in the comfort of their own home.

Home health care may include any of the following services.

  • Wound care
  • Patient and caregiver education
  • Intravenous and nutrition therapy
  • Injections
  • Monitoring vitals
  • Managing treatment and medication regimen

Things to consider when choosing hospice and home health care

While there is a clear difference between hospice care and home health, it can be confusing when deciding which service is best for your loved one. Typically, a patient’s doctor will prescribe the plan of treatment that best suits your loved one’s needs.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  1. What is your loved one’s prognosis? For patients with terminal illness or a life expectancy of six months or less, hospice care is typically the proper form of care. However, home health is typically prescribed for patients who are expected to recover or regain independence following treatment.
  2. Is your loved one homebound? Hospice care is not just for patients who are homebound. Sometimes patients with terminal illnesses are able to take walks, leave their home and do errands if they feel well enough. These patients would still qualify for hospice care. If your loved one is homebound, except for short durations of time outside the home, their doctor can certify that they are homebound and need home health care.
  3. Does your loved one need 24/7 care? Hospice care can provide round-the-clock care for patients who need acute symptom management 24/7. Home health care, on the other hand, does not provide 24-hour care.
  4. Will your loved one receive treatment at home or in a treatment facility? Hospice care can be administered anywhere the patient calls home. This could be a personal residence, hospital, long-term care facility or nursing home. Home health care may only be administered in the home of a certified homebound patient.

Support for family caregivers

INTEGRIS Hospice House offers in-patient hospice care and short-term respite care to provide relief for caregivers. For more information on INTEGRIS Hospice House of Oklahoma City, call 405-848-8884.

The INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center also offers a Caregiver Support Group on the third Thursday of every month. This group is for caregivers of patients with any chronic medical condition. 

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