Caregiving is an essential part of the patient’s treatment plan, but very often it becomes difficult for the primary caregivers to provide for the physical and emotional needs of their loved ones. In these cases, the caregivers can consider the hospice option, especially when the patient has expressed a desire to receive medical care at home.

What is Hospice Care?

The basic objective of hospice care is to provide for the patient’s needs that include everything from professional medical care to their psychological, social and spiritual needs. Based on a holistic approach, hospice care allows patients to stay close to their family and friends without having to compromise on professional medical care and treatment. Here are some basic definitions on the concept of hospice care, as stated by the Hospice Foundation of America.

The concept of hospice care seeks to provide all the necessary support to both patients and their family members in cases where a malignant illness has stopped responding to conventional medical treatments and cure options.

Hospice care is managed by a team of professionally trained individuals. The team may include medical practitioners, nurses, volunteers, certified therapists and counselors and social workers. Patients and family members are part of the core team and play the primary role in the decision making process. The main purpose of hospice care is to provide medical care and comfort in a sensitive, dignified manner that might help improve the quality of the patient’s life. A personalized care plan is prepared by the hospice team in consultation with the patient and their families, and is reviewed regularly and adjusted according to the changes in the patient’s health.

Hospice care helps patients and their family & friends cope with the spiritual, emotional and social impacts of diseases.

Hospice care for patients with a prognosis of six months or less is covered by Medicare. Benefits as available under Medicare cover all types of professional services, prescribed medication and other medical supplies and equipment. Benefits also include everything from physician services to counseling services, psychological training, spiritual services and bereavement services. In certain states, private health insurance policies, HMOs and Medicaid also cover hospice care.

Home Care

As opposed to hospice care that primarily focuses on holistic careand comfort for Mesothelioma patients, home care actively pursues treatments and cure options as well. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations along with many public hospitals and health care centers provide home care. Under home care, a team of health care professionals visit the patient’s home, prescribe treatment plans, medication and nutritional supplements, conduct therapy sessions, and carry out other complex medical procedures, if necessary.

Family members are part of the core home care team in addition to the doctors and nurses. They work collectively and co-ordinate with each other to provide the best possible care and treatment to the patient. Quite similar to hospice care, home care also aims at reducing pain and symptoms. In home care, team members can provide the required assistance to the primary caregiver by running errands, cooking food or helping patients with their personal hygiene. For proper monitoring, team members regularly communicate with the main physician over phone or during office visits.

Basic home visit services provided by skilled practitioners are covered by most insurance policies, with the patient having to pay for a deductible or co-payment. However, 24/7 care, as provided by volunteers is often not covered. Benefits offered may vary depending on the insurance policy and hence it is always advisable to check the scope of coverage provided by your plan. Many HMOs support only those home care initiatives that are managed by authorized agencies.

Medicaid, Medicare, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Old Americans Act are some prominent government-aided programs that provide home care to patients who meet their criteria. For more information on these organizations, you can reach them on the numbers below or visit their website.