Hospice Continuous Home Care is Not Always Around-the-Clock Care

Intensive patient support

Understanding the frequency of care provided by hospice is crucial for matching expectations with realities. When a hospice patient wishes to stay in their home, continuous care is short-term intensive support during times of crisis.

Continuous home care means a family needs a nurse for at least eight hours and up to 24-hours in a day. The goal is to manage the crisis, so patients can return to stable and routine care. Families will also have visits from others on the hospice team during a crisis, but at least half the care must be provided by a licensed nurse.

Crisis symptoms that may require continuous home care

  • Pain that cannot be managed by at-home caregivers
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe breathing problems
  • Persistent nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Breakdown in family or caregiver support
  • Intense agitation or restlessness

The term continuous care can be confusing. People sometimes assume it means a hospice nurse is always at the bedside. Your doctor and the hospice team will work with you to plan the frequency of crisis care.

Continuous care is available to people living in assisted living or long-term care. The goal is to return people to routine home care, which includes support at home, independent living, assisted living or other nursing facilities.

Patients and their families may also benefit from respite care. Respite care is a short-term stay in an approved facility when caregiver need to recover from the demands of daily in-home care. Respite care is also provided when a patient’s medical condition warrants inpatient care for pain or other symptoms that cannot be managed at home.

Medicare pays for patient transport and up to five consecutive days of inpatient care at a nursing facility or hospital. You can get respite care more than once, but only on an occasional basis.

Medicare and most insurance plans do not cover continuous care if someone is actively dying and their symptoms are under control. At Compassus, our team provides more frequent support during the final stage of life—during routine care, continuous care or wherever you are in the hospice journey.

How is routine care different from continuous care?

Routine care includes scheduled visits from from licensed nurses, aides, a chaplain, a social worker, therapists and volunteers. Patients also have access to home medical equipment, medications, personal supplies, and 24/7 on-call nursing support.

During routine care the primary hospice caregiver is usually a family member who trained and supported by the hospice team. Continuous care is more frequent support from licensed nurses designed to return people to routine care.