In our last blog post, we looked at the differences between palliative care and hospice. Generally speaking, palliative care describes a type of care provided in association with a chronic illness; hospice care is provided at end-of-life. Insurance only covers a portion of these services. This is where home care and home health companies can come in to play, as it relates to the total care plan whether it be palliative or hospice care.
David and his sister have been caring for their Dad and were just told that he now qualifies for hospice care. After contacting several hospice companies, they chose one and were looking forward to the additional care their Dad would be receiving. Care for Dad had increased to several hours a day and even though they shared the responsibilities, it was beginning to take a toll on them. Housekeeping, cooking, bathing, dressing and medication management were surpassing the full-time job mark. You can imagine their shock to learn that insurance would only cover a home health aide 45 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Moreover, the aide will only be able to assist with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). They expressed their concerns to the hospice company who suggested they consider supplementing Dad’s care with a home care or home health agency.
Hospice and Palliative care can be provided by several different people and agencies that work in conjunction to provide patient care. Think of it as having a Primary Care doctor who oversees and guides the care, but uses specialists (a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist, etc.) when needed to address very specific needs. Supplementing palliative or hospice care with a home health agency is very similar; the palliative care or hospice team oversees the care plan, but companies like Silver Lining Home Healthcare can be part of the team to provide services that will enhance your loved one’s care. Does your Mom or Dad want a massage? Do you want someone with them 24/7 at end-of-life? In the case study above, David and his sister welcomed support so they could be present simply as a son and a daughter and not worry about things like repositioning, suctioning and mouth care. That’s what Silver Lining Home Healthcare can do. Depending on the type of care you want (medical or non-medical) will determine what type of supplemental company you go to: A home health company can do everything (medical care, ADL care, IADL care) and a home care company can only do ADL and IADL care. Note: Make sure for ADL care, you ensure you have a home health aide or CNA.
Different palliative and hospice care companies may offer different levels of service. While they all get reimbursed by the same insurance companies, different business models and focuses may change the way that they’re able to care for you or a loved one. For instance, Delaware Hospice has a hospice house in Milford, Delaware where your loved one will go if he/she has uncontrollable pain or symptoms. Seasons Hospice has a hospital wing that they use for this. Vitas Hospice was trialing a system where they would provide 24/7 nursing care in the home if they had clients with uncontrollable pain. So different companies have different resources and models that change how they deal with your loved one.
As a patient’s symptoms change or progress, so too should their care plan. You know how you make changes to your lifestyle to get a certain result? Like working out and eating healthier if you want to feel better? Care is like that, too; the care plan constantly changes to achieve a desired result. Your Mom or Dad’s needs will be constantly evolving. Sometimes they’ll need the same resources for months, and sometimes the care plan will need to change every few days. Understanding this will help you not get frustrated every time something needs to change or you are given a care recommendation that is new.
If you’re looking at palliative or hospice care for your loved one, remember that the amount insurance covers will be minimal. When putting together your care team, here are some great questions to ask to help guide your decisions:
Caring for an elderly family member who is facing a chronic illness or end-of-life is never easy. We want you to make the most of your loved one’s last days and to be truly present. There are professionals ready to walk with you to ensure the best care for your loved one and for you. Want to read more on the topic of end-of-life care? We love Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.
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