FAQ: Is hospice care outside of the home right for you?

Hospice care at home is not always right for everyone. Hospice care at a location outside of the home may be more appropriate for you or your family member, if:

  • Family and friends are unable to provide basic care and support to the patient in the home all day, every day.
  • The patient is currently living in a nursing home or assisted living center.
  • The patient has pain or other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, that are very difficult to manage.

Hospice care my be available at:

  • Nursing homes – Nursing homes provide 24 hours a day nursing care, fulfilling the patient’s basic care needs. They provide some medical care, but do not provide as much high-level medical care as hospitals. Hospices coordinate their care with the staff of the nursing home.
  • Assisted living facilities – Assisted living facilities are home-like residences for people who need some help with their daily care and activities. They are different from nursing homes because they do not have special medical equipment or 24 hour a day nursing care. They do have trained staff available 24 hours day to provide other needed services.
  • Hospice residential facilities – Hospice residential facilities are home-like residences that specialize in caring for patients with a terminal illness who cannot be cared for safely at home. They have 24 hour a day nursing care and staff specifically trained in hospice care.
  • Special hospice beds or units at a hospital – When symptoms, such as pain or breathing difficulties, are hard to manage, hospitals are able to provide high levels of medical care 24 hours a day. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers short term stays at hospitals as needed to get symptoms under control, or to provide a break for family members who are caring for patients at home.

When thinking about where to receive hospice care, keep in mind:

  • What are the patient’s needs? The hospice will discuss with you what options are available and which would be most appropriate for you or your family member. Making this decision will require discussions with the patient, if he or she can participate in a discussion, but certainly within the family.
  • Do your benefits cover the cost of room and board at a facility? Hospice benefits (such as the Medicare Hospice Benefit) do not usually cover the daily costs of housing a patient. For more details check with your insurance provider.
  • Are there hospices in your area that provide care at a facility? See what is available in your area.