Getting hospice care services for your loved ones is a major undertaking. There are plenty of preparations to do to ensure that they have a comfortable stay. And the care proper itself can be rather complex.
There are four levels of hospice care that a patient goes through during their stay. Understanding what goes on in these different levels will help you better assist in their care. Let’s take a look at each level and what you have to do during them.
A Holistic Approach To Hospice Care Services
An essential aspect of providing hospice care is doing it holistically. Here, providers need to address a patient’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. As they progress through their end-of-life period, these needs change significantly.
To help care providers meet these changing needs, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services established the four levels of hospice care. These levels outline the kind of care environment and procedures the patient receives in that stage.
Note that there is no prescribed period for each level. A patient might move through each period in a matter of weeks or might stay in one level for months. Some might not even go through all these. This largely depends on the patient’s condition and their doctor’s recommendations, as well as their wishes.
The First Level: At Home Hospice Care
Once patients come to terms with the knowledge that they have only a short time remaining, they might want to spend it at the comfort of their home. Here, the hospice will assign a team that will give the necessary care depending on their condition and requests.
However, the role of primary caregiver will still be held by a family member. Their task is to supervise the patient around the clock. If you are the one to take on that role, you will need to be constantly at your loved one’s side.
This will require you to make a significant change in your daily routine. If it is possible, several family members might want to take on the role. This way, you can create a more flexible schedule that lets everyone continue their activities while still tending to the patient.
Care begins when your loved one is admitted officially to the program. A representative will visit you at home to assess your loved one’s condition. They will also survey your house to see what else should be done to facilitate the care procedure.
Hospice care services also have on-call nurses that you can get in touch with if needed. They will be able to dispatch additional medical personnel to your home. They might also perform home visits to the patient. Additionally, hospices provide round-the-clock pharmacy and doctor services.
The Second Level: Continuous Hospice Care
In the above hospice at home care level, the attending nurse usually takes only a supporting role and stays only for short periods. However, your loved one’s condition might progress and they will need to receive constant expert care. At this point, you move up to the next level, which is continuous hospice care.
Here, the attending nurse will take over the role of primary caregiver. Their caregiving sessions also become longer. Depending on the circumstances, the nurse may even have to take up residence in your home to monitor your loved one continuously.
On the other hand, you take on a more supportive role. Your task now is more towards providing emotional support to your loved one. By not having to do much of the physical care task, you get to focus on comforting them and your other family members.
This level is also often referred to as crisis care, due to the patient undergoing a sudden medical crisis. Such crises are accompanied by more severe symptoms like unrelieved pain or shortness of breath. However, in certain situations, the attending doctor or nurse might instead recommend that you move to the next level due to the severity of the symptoms.
The Third Level: In-Patient Hospice Care
When the current home-based care intervention is not enough anymore to manage symptoms, you have no choice but to move to inpatient care. This time, your loved one is moved to a medical facility for continuous care. These facilities are fully equipped to handle patients with varying symptoms.
Some of the most common conditions that might necessitate inpatient care are:
- Sudden health deterioration that requires intensive intervention
- Uncontrolled pain
- Pathological fractures (bone damage due to the patient’s condition)
- Unmanageable respiratory issues
- Uncontrolled seizures
- Unmanageable agitation or restlessness
Note that the actual symptoms can vary. As such, you need to consult doctors beforehand to have a clear idea of what to watch out for before signing up for inpatient care.
Aside from managing these severe symptoms, inpatient hospice care can also handle more complex care procedures that can’t be done at home. These include wound care that requires more frequent dressing changes and symptom relief through intravenous injections.
In most cases, inpatient hospice care is temporary. The goal is to bring back the symptoms to a more manageable level so that your loved one can return home. However, some patients might opt to stay in the facility to wait out their final days. They see it as a more appropriate place to interact with their loved ones for the last time.
The Fourth Level: Respite Care
Rather than addressing progressing symptoms, this last level of hospice care services provides support for the patient’s family. It gives primary caregivers a much-needed break so that they can attend to their personal activities. It also serves as a breather from the challenge of caring for someone with an advanced illness.
Here, your loved one checks into an inpatient or nursing facility for a short period. The facility will handle all the pertinent care procedures they might require. Each stay can last anywhere from a day to several days, depending on the need. You can also schedule more than one stay.
One thing to remember is that respite care is a pre-arranged service. You will need to inform your care provider in advance that you are to take a break. They will then discuss with you what kind of care they can provide during each stay. You will also need to be aware of the different rules they have for the service. Once arrangements are complete, the provider will review everything and give final approval.
Get The Best Hospice Care At Any Level
Amavi understands that each patient requires different kinds of care. We offer all four different levels of hospice care service. And we guarantee that each level has the same quality service that you need. Contact us today for arrangements.