Home Health Vs. Hospice: What’s the Difference?

There is an array of healthcare services provided in the supportive and familiar setting of home. This is where most people prefer to stay if they have a choice. With home care, it is possible to reduce the need for hospital stays while still delivering personalized and hands-on care from professional healthcare teams. This is because the patient doesn’t have to navigate challenges of leaving their home during the recovery process.

Two of the most used and known healthcare specialties include home health care services and hospice. These are services that are covered by private insurers and Medicaid, in most cases.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is designed to offer spiritual, emotional, social, and clinical care along with support for the patient and their family as the patient gets close to the end of life. 

Hospice care providers also offer respite care for a family member. This allows family caregivers to leave the house and handle other things, rejuvenate, and rest. Hospice care will also include grieving or bereavement care for individuals after someone dies. In order to qualify for this care, patients must receive a terminal diagnosis from their doctor of six months or less, which will mean discontinuing most curative treatments, and support treatment that focuses on pain relief and quality of life. 

What Are Home Health Care Services?

Home health is also referred to as in-home care. These refer to medical services that are ordered by a doctor and provided in a person’s home to help all types of patients fully recover or rehabilitate following any type of hospitalization, surgery, illness, or injury and to provide the help needed to learn the right way to manage chronic conditions.

A part of home health is a care team that provides palliative care. This care is designed to help keep a patient completely comfortable by using various interventions designed to manage and reduce pain along while still treating their underlying disease or illness. 

Who Will Provide the Care?

Each type of in-home care has a team that is designed to suit the needs and diagnosis that a patient has received.

With hospice, patients will receive the needed services from a certified hospice organization. This offers every individual an interdisciplinary team including a hospice aid, nurse, physician, chaplain, spiritual counselor, bereavement counselor, and more who will come to the home of the patient regardless of where they call home. This includes nursing homes, assisted living communities, and private residences.

With home health, an agency will take the services to the private home of a patient who requires skilled care that relates to the diagnosis they have received. This includes, but isn’t limited to, the help of occupational therapists, registered nurses, physical therapists, certified nursing assistants, and speech or language pathologists.

How Long Will Care be Provided?

The length of care provided is going to depend on the needs of a patient. For hospice, the patient will receive an unlimited number of visits for up to six months, sometimes longer. This is done as long as a person continues to present a limited life expectancy. This is something that must be determined by a doctor.

With home health, the total length of the service is determined by what the care goals are. The time period, amount, and frequency of the services should be reasonable. During the course of care, the person’s condition should improve or be maintained through the therapy provided.

Does a Person Have to be Homebound to Receive Care?

Hospice and home health patients do not need to be homebound to receive care. Hospice patients can choose to receive their hospice care in home rather than a facility or hospital setting. For home health patients, doctors prescribe home health if there is a taxing effort to leave their home which is inhibiting them from receiving quality care and recovering at home.

Will Care be Provided at All Times?

Hospice will provide patients with care for up to 24 hours per day and seven days a week. This ensures that a patient will always have access to the care of hospice aides and skilled nursing aides. Especially with the innovation of telehealth, access to a care team is available at any hour. 

What Happens if a Person’s Symptoms Aren’t Able to be Controlled from Home?

With hospice or home health, if the family, patient or doctor deem care or comfort to be beyond what can be provided in home, they may recommend moving the patient to a facility or hospital. The goal is always to have a patient receive care in home, and often that lowers the chances of re-hospitalization. 

Is Care Provided in a Long-Term Care Facility? 

It is possible for hospice and home health services to be provided at any location a patient calls home. This includes nursing homes or assisted living communities.

A patient, family, and doctor should work together to help ensure that the right solution is found. This is going to pay off and ensure that the desired solutions are achieved. Make sure to keep this in mind to get the required care and minimize issues that may arise in other situations if this care is not provided.