Inpatient Hospice or Home Hospice Care?

Surveys have shown that when faced with terminal illness, most people said they preferred to remain in their homes for care1, continuing the routines that make them most comfortable. Hospice is designed to treat patients where they are best suited to receive care: at home. But for complex patients who require more intensive modalities of care, VITAS can elevate the level of care to meet the needs of the patient.

Hospice Is a Philosophy of Care

Many people think that hospice means going to—or ending up in—a place. Hospice isn’t a place. Hospice is a unique philosophy of care that focuses on enhancing comfort and overall quality of life during the last months, weeks and days of life.

VITAS treats physical symptoms, provides pain management and addresses emotional and spiritual concerns. VITAS makes the time the patient has more meaningful for them and their loved ones.

Wherever You Call Home

Hospice care extends to wherever a seriously ill patient calls home—a private residence, assisted living community or nursing home. An interdisciplinary team—physician, nurse, hospice aide, chaplain, social worker and volunteer—brings clinical, compassionate hospice services to patients wherever they live.

When the patient is in a private residence, the team comes to the home to provide pain management and symptom control as well as personal care. The team also provides caregiver education along with emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their loved ones.

For patients who live in an assisted living community or nursing home, the hospice team provides care that complements the care the patient is already receiving. The staff of the facility is regarded as an extension of the patient’s family and receives the same emotional support, including bereavement services after their loss.

Addressing Worsening Conditions

If a patient’s symptoms—pain, nausea or confusion, for example—worsen or become difficult to control, VITAS continues to help the patient remain wherever they call home. Medicare-certified hospices must provide regulated shifts of continuous care at the bedside if symptoms become severe, eliminating the need to go to the hospital.

Inpatient Units

While the vast majority of hospice care is provided at home, in some situations—often when symptoms become too difficult to manage at home—the patient needs to be transferred to an inpatient setting. That could be a contracted hospice bed in a nearby healthcare facility or a VITAS inpatient unit. Whatever the space may look like, the goal of inpatient hospice care is to address symptoms so the patient can return to the routine homecare level of hospice as soon as possible.

Many hospice patients never require admission to an inpatient setting and remain comfortably at home for as long as they receive hospice services.

1Kaiser Family Foundation/The Economist Four-Country Survey of Aging and End-of-Life Medical Care (2017). Conducted March 30–May 29, 2016.

Call VITAS to learn more about hospice and palliative care options.


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