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Home Health Or Hospice — What's The Difference?

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When it comes to choosing the right kind of care for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to know what options are available, and which option provides the kind of care you need. While some care benefits and services are similar and can sometimes overlap, there are still important differences to understand.

In short, hospice is comfort care for those facing limited life expectancy, while home health is skilled nursing and rehab services designed for the recovery process.

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Qualifying For Care:

To qualify for skilled home health care, a patient would have a limited ability to leave their home, and be in need for skilled nursing services or therapy. Skilled home health care is designed for anyone recovering from a serious injury, surgery or illness, such as a stroke or hip replacement surgery. The patient’s primary care physician can recommend or prescribe home health services as an alternative to going into a rehab facility or outpatient clinic for care.

To qualify for hospice care, a patient must have a prognosis of six months or less to live, should their illness run its normal course. This can be caused from a variety of diagnoses, including heart failure, end-stage cancer, dementia, neuro-muscular disease, or many others. There are four main levels of hospice care, depending on the needs of the patient: Routine Home Care, Crisis Home Care, Inpatient Care and Respite Care. Hospice care focuses on providing quality of life for their remaining months, weeks and days. A patient is not eligible for hospice care if they are still seeking curative treatments for their illness.

Services Provided:

Hospice care offers an interdisciplinary approach to address the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients. The hospice nursing team provides patients with pain control, symptom management, end-of-life support, personal care, and quality medical care. In addition to the clinical care, the hospice social workers can assist families with planning and placements, and non-denominational chaplains are available to provide spiritual support. The hospice team also provides support and training for caregivers and families.

Skilled home health provides services aimed at getting the patient up and moving again, helping them regain independence and find solutions to fit your lifestyle. These services can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, rehabilitation services, wound care, medication management, injections, and other skilled nursing services. The hands-on approach allows patients to strengthen and recover so they can keep moving and live life fully.

Where Care Is Provided:

Home health care is provided where you are most comfortable: home. This means that instead of staying in a nursing or rehab facility, you are able to be at home with loved ones, enjoy special family moments, celebrate the holidays with family and friends, and remain independent at home.

Hospice care is provided to the patient wherever they call home. That could be in their own home, in the home of a family member caring for them, in a nursing facility, or senior living apartments. If the patient’s symptoms cannot be managed where they are, the hospice care team may recommend being transferred into an in-patient hospice care center where the nursing team can provide care 24/7 around the clock.

The Care Team:

The hospice interdisciplinary care team includes:

  • On-staff hospice physicians who offer pain management and symptom control through home visits. Patients can also choose to continue seeing their own physician.
  • Experienced nurses (RN and LPN) whose primary concern is the patient's physical comfort. They monitor the patient's condition and adjust medication as necessary. Nurses are also available on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Certified nursing assistants who help with personal care.
  • Social workers who specialize in helping patients and families live well and fully as they cope with issues surrounding a life-limiting illness.
  • Non-denominational chaplains who offer services sensitive to the spiritual needs of those facing a life-limiting illness.
  • Volunteers to assist with special programs, provide respite care and companionship, run errands and more.

The home health care team includes:

  • Licensed therapists to provide the needed therapy treatments, including physical therapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists
  • Nurses to provide medication management, skilled nursing care, wound care, injections and more
  • Home health aides to assist with personal care as needed

Getting Started:

If you believe that either home health or hospice might be appropriate for you or your loved one, the team at Gulfside Healthcare Services is available to answer your questions and start the enrollment process. Even if you’re not sure, our team is happy to meet with you for a services evaluation to determine how Gulfside can best serve you. To get started, call us anytime at 800-817-9941 or visit our website to compete the online referral form at www.Gulfside.org.