Routine home care includes regularly scheduled visits to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of hospice patients and their caregivers. The hospice team travels to the patient's home, whether that is a traditional residence, nursing home, assisted living or any place the patient calls home.

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

Hospice works best when there are clear conversations among patients, family members, doctors and the hospice team. Together, they create a plan of care outlining the needs and priorities of the patient and family caregivers. This plan is always adapting to people's changing needs.

The hospice team is always available, but routine care is not round-the-clock nursing care at home. The primary caregiver is usually a family member trained by the hospice to provide much of the daily hands-on care.

At-home hospice can be challenging, especially for family members with children or careers outside the home. Families often find creative ways to make it happen. In 2018, Medicare reported that almost 56 percent of hospice care days were for routine care in a private home.

What if home care become too much?

Medicare benefits include short and long-term support options for families.

  • Respite care gives family caregivers time off to recover and recharge. Benefits pay for up to five consecutive days at a nursing facility.
  • Continuous home care offers short-term 24/7 nursing support at home.
  • Inpatient care is round-the-clock care in a Medicare-approved facility. Patients return home if their symptoms stabilize.
  • Learn more about the levels of hospice care offered by Medicare benefits.

What does routine hospice care at home cost?

Hospice is a Medicare and VA benefit. It is also covered by many private health insurance plans. Coverage includes nurses, other caregivers, medicines, supplies, equipment and support, with no out-of-pocket expenses for the hospice diagnosis.