Q&A: Understanding Home Care and Hospice

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By News Team on November 6, 2020

At some point in life, you or a family member may need supportive care after a hospitalization or surgery, or compassionate care as the end of life nears. With so many options available, it can be confusing to know which is right during such a challenging time.

We asked the Carilion Clinic Home Care and Hospice teams to answer some common questions people have as they face the prospect of home health or hospice support.

Q: Is Home Care the same as Hospice care?

A: Home health care and hospice care offer distinctly different services for people with a variety of support needs.

Carilion Clinic Home Care offers treatments and therapies in a patient's home following a hospitalization or surgery. Home health services can help prevent a return visit to the hospital or emergency room.

Hospice is different, in that it provides comfort and compassionate care for patients with serious or complex illnesses that may limit life within 6 months should the illness run its usual course.

Q: Are Home Care and Hospice covered by insurance?

A: Yes, they typically are. Because home health care is a convenient, cost-saving alternative to hospitalization, it is covered under most private insurance plans as well as under Medicare and Medicaid. Criteria for admission and reimbursement vary, however, so Check your coverage.

For hospice care, most patients have their costs covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. If using private insurance, check with your provider as qualifications and covered benefits vary.

Q: Is Hospice only for end-of-life care?

A: Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for people with conditions that mean they likely have fewer than six months to live. The goal of Carilion Clinic Hospice is to provide patients and families with compassionate care so they can experience the rewarding moments in this part of life’s journey.

Patients can graduate from hospice at any time, and return to curative treatment. This decision is up to individual patients and their families in coordination with their providers.

Q: Does Hospice care have to happen in a hospital?

A: Hospice is an approach to care, not a place. Hospice care can be provided in various settings depending on where the patient is most comfortable and where they call home.

At Carilion Clinic Hospice, an interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, advance care specialists, social services providers, chaplains and volunteers work together to make the end-of-life experience as comfortable as possible for everyone.

Q: Are Home Care and Hospice care only available for limited times?

A: The length of time in care varies for both services based on the patient’s needs.

For home health, specific goals of care determine the length of service. The amount, frequency and time period of the services need to be reasonable and the patient’s condition must improve or be maintained through therapy.

Hospice patients receive unlimited visits for six months or longer, as long as they continue to meet hospice criteria as determined by a physician and the interdisciplinary care team.

For more information on planning care, go to Carilion Clinic Home Care and Hospice or call 540-224-4753.

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As always, and like never before, we're here to see you safely through all your health care needs. Visit CarilionClinic.org/safe to learn how. For up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19, visit CarilionClinic.org/coronavirus