Home health and hospice care are two options for in-home care, each with a different purpose and service offering. A comparison of the two can help you understand the type of in-home care that might best fit your needs. Here are several differences between home health and hospice care:
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Purpose of Care
Hospice care offers pain management for individuals with a terminal diagnosis. It aims to optimize the patient’s quality of life and comfort for their remaining stages of life. Home health care assists patients in recovering from surgery, injury, or illness. The care approach aims to help individuals manage chronic diseases or receive nursing assistance as needed.
Hospice services can include personal care services for physical, mental, and emotional health. Medical social workers in hospice services help with advance directives, insurance coverage, and treatment planning. Hospice services may also include bereavement counseling for the patient’s loved ones, companionship for the patient, household task completion, and 24-hour availability of nursing services.
Home health care typically provides professional nursing care, supplies, and medications for the patient. Services can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, wound care, and medical social work. Home health care patients may depend on personal assistance from home health aides or nurse assistants.
The hospice interdisciplinary team consists of a physician, medical director, nursing staff, pharmacist, and social worker. The team may also involve a hospice chaplain, a volunteer, and a bereavement specialist. Family members of the patient are generally considered part of the hospice team as well, working together for the patient’s benefit.
The home health team includes a physician and registered nursing staff. Occupational therapists, physical therapists, medical social workers, wound care specialists, and registered dietitians may also be included. Some teams involve additional certified personnel like home health personal care aides and nursing assistants.
For hospice services, one is typically eligible when a medical professional determines a limited remaining lifespan. The patient or the patient’s family should elect palliative care for hospice services eligibility. A declining functional state evidenced by a low palliative performance scale rating may enhance eligibility. Being dependent on others for multiple daily living activities, decreased cognitive capacity, and multiple recent emergency department visits may also increase eligibility for hospice.
Patients should be deemed homebound or have limited capacity to leave their residences without assistance to qualify for home health care. A new diagnosis or a diagnosis showing a worsening condition may make an individual eligible for home health care. Increasing visits to the doctor can also enhance eligibility for home health services.
Hospice care is normally offered wherever the patient resides. It may be provided in a private residence, hospital, nursing home, or inpatient hospice center. Patients receive home health services while at home. This type of care is generally not offered in other settings.
Get Quality Home Health or Hospice Care
Understanding the differences between home health and hospice care may help you select a suitable treatment for a loved one. One of the main differences is that patients with a terminal illness may rely on hospice services, while those aiming to recover from an illness or surgery may depend on home health services. Consider meeting with an experienced home health and hospice provider to help identify the best treatment approach for your needs.