Patients with a terminal illness receive hospice care and services in the location that is most appropriate for them. Options include the following.
At a patient’s or family member’s home
- Most hospice care in the US takes place in the patient’s home. Family members provide the routine daily care for the patient.
- Hospice care provides support and guidance to the family members who are caring for their loved one at home. Family members (and friends) are the main source of care for the patient at home, providing basic care such as giving medication, physically moving the patient, helping the patient stay clean, eat and drink. Hospice staff is not there to replace the care being given to the patient by their family. Instead they provide the needed treatment, support, and guidance that allows patients to die at home comfortably and with dignity.
At an assisted living center, nursing home, or residential hospice facility
- For patients who cannot be cared for at home, for example, if:
- patients are already being cared for at a faciliy, or
- patients do not have family members to help care for them, or
- patients cannot be safely cared for at home,
Hospice care is available at assisted living centers and nursing homes. Some, but not all, hospices may also have a special “home-like” residential hospice facility available for patients to live in.
- Hospices coordinate care with the staff of the facility.
- Keep in mind that most hospice benefits do not usually cover the cost of housing a patient in a nursing home or assisted living facility (also known as daily room and board costs). However, these costs may be covered by traditional Medicare benefits or other benefits you have.
In special hospice beds or units in a hospital
Hospice services may also be provided in special hospice beds or units in a hospital for short periods of time when patients need high levels of medical care, for example, if a patient’s pain level is difficult to manage, or when family members need a rest from caring for the patient at home for a few days (a service that is called “respite care”).
While in the hospital, patients in these special hospice beds or units will continue to receive the benefits of hospice care, including: care that is focused on patients’ quality of life, expert pain management, expert guidance and support for this phase of patients’ illness, visits by hospice nurse and other staff, coordination of patients’ care, and emotional and spiritual support for patients and their family.