If you're providing hospice care for a loved one at home, respite care offers you the opportunity for short-term relief. Medicare benefits pay for 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.

During respite care, your loved one is transferred to a Medicare-approved hospice or nursing care facility. Medicare guidelines allow for more than one respite occurrence, with each respite lasting no more than five days in a row. The five-days of respite include the day of admission, but not the day of discharge.

Respite care is also allowed when a patient’s medical condition warrants a short term inpatient stay for pain control or symptom management that cannot be provided in a home setting.

Reasons for a respite care request include:

  • You are physically or emotionally exhausted
  • You would like to attend an important or required life event
  • You are ill and need time to recover

When considering respite

  • Care must be prearranged and approved by the hospice provider.
  • Continuous home care is not Medicare approved for respite.
  • Hospice respite is not appropriate for patients in a nursing facility that provides 24/7 care.
  • Talk with your hospice provider about Medicare respite rules. They have experience with the sometimes complex Medicare and state rules regarding hospice respite care.

Benefits of hospice respite care for family caregivers

Family members who take time to rest and recover are better hospice caregivers. They suffer less burnout and have more energy to devote to loved ones.

Restoration comes from knowing your source of joy so you can share that comfort with others. Sometimes it's giving yourself permission to rediscover a hobby or try a new one. Reconnecting with friends can recharge your soul.

Volunteers can help with day-to-day relief

Our hospice volunteers offer caregivers the gift of free time to take care of daily duties. All of our volunteers are professionally trained. Volunteers provide companionship to the patient and respite for the caregiver, including:

  • Friendly visits
  • Reading to patients or writing letters
  • Light housekeeping and meal preparation
  • Running errands
  • Hair care

The Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) may cover respite care in some situations. Learn more on the PACE plan website.