Hospice Respite Care
End-of-life patients receiving hospice services are eligible for “respite care,” defined and covered by the Medicare hospice benefit. Hospice respite care allows a family caregiver to get a break from caregiving duties while the patient is cared for in a Medicare-certified facility.
What Is Respite Care?
Medicare defines respite care as, “… short-term inpatient care provided to the individual only when necessary to relieve the family members or the person caring for the individual at home.”
Situations that are considered necessary include:
- Caregivers who may be suffering from physical or emotional exhaustion from taking care of a patient around the clock
- Caregivers who would like to attend a family event such as a graduation, wedding, funeral, etc.
- Caregivers who become ill and cannot take care of the patient.
Who Provides Respite Care?
In the event of these kinds of situations, the hospice benefit pays for a patient to stay in a Medicare-certified facility for up to five days and nights while the caregiver is away. Members of the hospice care team are in a position to notice the symptoms of caregiver burnout; they can ask the team physician to provide orders to admit a patient into a Medicare-approved facility.
Once the patient is admitted, the hospice team continues to expedite the patient’s plan of care, while the facility staff provides the care that otherwise would be given by the family caregiver. Under the hospice benefit, inpatient respite care can be provided on an occasional basis for up to five days and nights, ensuring that the caregiver can relax and enjoy time away knowing his or her loved one is in good hands.
Respite Care is One of Our Four Levels of Care
Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice (LSLC&H) offers four broad types, or levels, of care as defined by the Medicare hospice benefit:
- Routine home care. This is how LSLC&H provides hospice care most often: in patients’ homes, long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
- Continuous care (Intensive Comfort Care®). When medically necessary, acute symptom management is provided at home or in another facility by hospice staff in shifts of up to 24 hours/day so the patient can avoid hospitalization.
- Inpatient care. If a patient’s needs cannot be managed at home, LSLC&H inpatient hospice units and special arrangements at other local facilities provide hospice care around the clock until the patient can return home.
- Respite care. Limited to up to five consecutive days, respite care provides a brief “respite” for the patient’s primary caregiver by admitting the home care patient to an institutional setting without meeting the “inpatient” pain and symptom management criteria.