How Does Hospice Work When The Patient Is In A Nursing Home?

Russ Krengel Hospice

Many families will someday face the difficult task of starting hospice care for a loved one. Usually, that means that a team of hospice caregivers will schedule times to come to your home and that they will begin to help the patient to manage pain, ease any other symptoms of their illness where possible and to help with other end of life care as needed. But what happens if your family member is already living in a nursing home? What does hospice care look like in that kind of situation?

Actually, for the patient who lives in a nursing home, their hospice experience will not be all that different from those getting care in their own homes. At home, hospice care workers are usually coordinating with family members to schedule visits, monitoring the patient’s condition  and tracking changes in their health. Family members typically tend to managing the daily schedule, bathing, eating, hygiene and grooming needs. The primary difference, when hospice care happens in a nursing home, is that the nursing home staff will manage scheduling for hospice visits and the staff there will also continue to manage the daily care protocols for their patient.

The thing is, home is home – whether that is in your own home, living with a family member or staying in a nursing home – where you live is where you live. And if you get sick, where you live is where hospice care happens. In a nursing home or not, hospice will include regular visits by a hospice Registered Nurse. There will also be consultations by specialized hospice physicians, if needed. Pain management will take the front seat as hospice does not treat the illness so much as it treats the patient and works to provide comfort.

One of the great things about hospice that many people do not realize they can expect is education. Hospice care teams are very good at teaching family members what to expect, how to help their loved one to manage once simple tasks, and to provide general calm when things become difficult. That is still an option when your loved one begins hospice while living in a nursing home. Those hospice workers can still talk to family members and they can still play an important role for the whole family.

Another aspect of hospice care is the ability or option to focus on spirituality. If the patient is religious or has specific beliefs they want to acknowledge, hospice is open and supportive of anything that might help bring peace and calm. That does not change just because someone lives in a nursing home.

It is important to note that most hospice care does not cover the costs associated with housing a patient, so there is no allowance to pay for staying in a nursing home for most families. Those costs are typically covered by Medicare or whatever coverage the patient has for their healthcare. Whether at home or in a nursing home, most hospice care is covered and should not be a cause for out of pocket cost concerns. It is important to know your options and to understand the benefits of hospice, no matter what your living situation is when the time comes.