Hospice, home health services focus on different levels of care

Published 7:30 am Saturday, April 29, 2023

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Both Hospice and Home Health are focused on patient-centered care, providing in home visits to meet their patients’ needs. Home health care is intended to help patients recover from injury, surgery, or illness and progress toward improved functionality. Hospice provides comfort measures to control pain and symptoms in patients with advanced illness when curative medical treatments are no longer effective or preferred.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Below are a list of some similarities and differences in the two home healthcare services.

A patient on home health can become eligible for hospice as their illness progresses. Below are some of the signs that may indicate you or your loved one may benefit from hospice which is a higher level of care.

  • Unintentional weight loss of more than 10 percent of your normal body weight
  • New or increased inabilities to do physical activity, spending more time in a chair or bed
  • Eating or drinking less
  • Increased drowsiness, sleeping more
  • Increase in confusion
  • Needing more help with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, walking
  • Becoming more incontinent of urine and bowels
  • Considerable decline in mental alertness, memory, and thinking
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath at rest or with minimal exertion
  • Ongoing functional decline

Then again, if a patient on hospice significantly improves, the doctor may reevaluate the patient’s prognosis and order discharge from hospice and admission to home health.

Home health and hospice are two options for healthcare that are provided in the home and can greatly reduce emergency room visits and repeat hospitalizations.  Comparing Home Health and Hospice should help you determine which service will better fit your needs.  Both services have specific criteria and both require a physician’s order.

If you want more information, please speak with your healthcare provider or call the Home Health or Hospice of your choice.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate for Aveanna Hospice.