What is Hospice Respite Care?

Respite care basics and the Medicare guidelines for family caregivers

Respite care basics and the Medicare guidelines for family caregivers

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. 


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.

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.

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