Facing end-of-life decisions for a loved one or family member is difficult. It’s a vulnerable time that can feel like surrender or giving up. When you are no longer looking to cure or slow an illness that a loved one faces, hospice respite care will provide compassionate assistance to manage symptoms for the patient, and carefully tend to the emotional needs of the caregivers within the family. This level of care will provide peace and hope for the quality of life for your loved one throughout their remaining time. 

When you are looking for support and assistance to care for your loved one inside their home as a way to enrich their remaining time, hospice introduces a collaborative effort of care between the highest caliber professionals and volunteers including

  • doctors, 
  • nurses, 
  • health aides, 
  • counselors, 
  • social worker,
  • home care aides
  • chaplain

The hospice team will work together with the family to provide quality care and ensure that the loved one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met with respect and dignity. 

Providing In-Home Care for a Loved One Through Hospice or Respite Care

We all want to see our loved ones end life with dignity and self-worth. Yet few people undertake the advance planning needed to ensure their final wishes are met. That’s one reason making end-of-life decisions is so challenging. The financial burden of a nursing home can be tremendous and is not the best solution for patients who wish to receive care in their own homes. Family members who provide ongoing care for a loved one want to keep them out of pain but feel inadequate to provide a quality level of care. 

Considering options about equipment, treatment, and the administration of medication can feel overwhelming. In most cases, these types of decisions are not something that family members are prepared to face. Assistance from a hospice team provides care and wisdom during a time when a loved one needs it most. 

Hospice Respite Care is for Patients and Caregivers

Initiating hospice care is a well-recognized and preferred solution as a patient and their loved ones manage the final stage of life. Your hospice team will provide compassionate support for nearly every need that arises. Managing symptoms is the most commonly recognized part of hospice, but the team of professionals will also help with providing equipment and oversight of medications among many other aspects of care. This provides monumental support for the caregivers. Hospice teams often advise caregivers in the family—sharing helpful counsel and solutions to address the many different needs that arise.

When respite care becomes necessary, hospice organizations will often provide services through a team of volunteers who can give a mental and emotional breather for caregivers. Volunteer caregivers will come and sit with a patient while the primary family caregiver steps away for a break. 

Supportive Options for Patients and Caregivers

Some of the terminology about health care and hospice can seem confusing or add to the overwhelm that patients and their loved ones are already experiencing. We’ll break it all down for you simply.  

Palliative Care Vs. Hospice Care

When patients begin to experience symptoms that diminish their quality of remaining time, caregivers have different options for available support. In addition to hospice and hospice respite care which provide help for terminally ill patients in their final months of life, palliative care supports a patient in making decisions during any serious illness.  

Palliative care providers will help with the coordination of in-home services that will enhance the quality of life for your loved one. The expertise of palliative care providers is to work with a patient and their family to determine the health care goals, then coordinate with the primary care medical team to ensure treatment aligns with those goals. A palliative care team will also provide support in planning advance directives. 

Similarly, hospice or respite care teams aim to increase the quality of the time remaining for patients. However, hospice differs from palliative care in that it only transpires within the final months of life. While palliative care works toward wellness, hospice becomes an option when a cure is no longer expected. Hospice teams work with a family to intensely focus on comfort, emotional well-being, and quality of life for the time that remains for the loved one.

Respite Care Definition

Respite care is a short-term solution that is provided for caregivers. A respite is a brief interval of rest. So, respite care may involve asking friends or relatives to care for a loved one for a period of time. Then a caregiver can get out for errands, to address health needs, or experience enjoyable activities.

Respite care is a service that’s often wrapped into hospice care. With hospice respite care, in-home help can come from a team of volunteers who sit with a patient so a caregiver can get a necessary physical, emotional, and mental break.

When hospice respite care involves overnight needs or stays that last for longer durations of time, even for several days, professional caregivers are needed. Such services are usually provided in a hospice medical facility outside of the patient’s home. There are costs involved with these resources. 

Fees are often computed on an hourly or daily basis and are not covered by insurance. Medicare may cover some or all of hospice respite care costs, but patients must pay out of pocket for all expenses not covered. Medicaid may also offer financial assistance for costs for hospice respite care, but only for those who qualify.

What is the Difference Between Respite Care and Hospice Care for Patients?

Hospice is provided to help manage symptoms, provide comfort, and oversee the quality of life issues for terminally ill patients who have little time remaining. Much attention is also given to the emotional needs of the caregiver during hospice. However, respite care within hospice treatment is primarily intended to help the caregiver step away to rejuvenate.  

Why is Hospice Respite Care Needed?

Caregiving for a terminally ill patient is arduous and requires great endurance. There is no way to appreciate the time and energy commitments until the caring process is underway. Aside from the emotional concerns of the caregiver, they may also experience physical exertion, anticipatory grief, and mental fatigue. It’s important that they receive the support they need so they can continue to provide quality care. 

Caregivers don’t have to navigate the journey alone. The hospice team offers tremendous support, help with resources, and practical advice for managing hospice care. There are times when caregivers may face weariness, exhaustion, and overwhelming grief. Then respite care becomes necessary. Respite care is available so that caregivers can step away for a period of time and refresh—either for a few hours or for a few days. 

When caregivers take a much-needed break it’s common for them to struggle with feelings of selfishness. But taking a respite during hospice is one of the most effective ways to continue providing compassionate care to a loved one. That can make hospice respite care among the most valued resources of a hospice program.

What Financial Help is Available for Hospice Respite Care? 

Loved ones commonly ask, does hospice pay for respite care

Hospice care providers understand the vital need for respite care resources. When respite care is utilized in-home, costs are often covered as part of the hospice plan, most often through Medicare. Costs for using respite care away from the patient’s home—commonly inside a hospice medical facility— are determined on a case-by-case basis. They may sometimes be covered by Medicare or Medicaid benefits for those who qualify.  

The Immense Value of Hospice and Respite Care

The stress of facing the end-of-life can make patients and caregivers feel as if they’ve lost control over many decisions. But through hospice care, there are still many factors that patients and their loved ones can control. Hospice care is primarily focused on providing for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of a patient so they can culminate their life in comfort and in ways that honor their beliefs and preferences. Hospice staff members provide support and resources within the home to help patients live as fully as possible while protecting their dignity and respecting their wishes. 

Hospice care provides invaluable help and support to family caregivers as well. Professionals are available to address concerns, suggest solutions, and support needs around the clock. Caregivers never need to feel that they’ve embarked on the hospice journey alone. They can receive all of the help and care that they need through the support of an understanding medical team. This includes respite care to help protect a caregiver’s wellbeing, so they can continue to serve with love and compassion.

There are many ways to find continued hope and peace, even when the end of life comes. Hospice and respite care help families enrich their relationships during the time they are able to share together. Rather than struggling to get their loved ones to countless doctors appointments and test procedures, they can shift their focus toward fulfilling needs of comfort and emotional support for the loved one who faces death. The comprehensive and collaborative approach to providing quality care for both the patient and the caregiver add to the immense value of hospice and respite care.

ABOUT ameriCARE San Francisco

ameriCARE San Francisco is a family-owned and operated home care agency serving all the San Francisco Bay Area. We are a new kind of in-home care. We believe it’s time the senior home care experience became more personalized, positive, and empowering. We offer home care assistance that is flexible and accommodating to your schedule with no contracts. Our in-home care services leverage smart technology that not only improves our personalized care plans but also provides more transparency into our daily care in the home and our communication with the entire care circle. ameriCARE San Francisco believes that thoughtful, personalized care has the power to not only maintain but also enrich anyone’s quality of life.