The complications that accompany aging cause many people to benefit from assistance as they grow older and most will require support when they arrive at their final stage of life. Having a qualified care team and comfortable living situation allows them to maintain a high quality of life to the very end. Depending on their needs, many people turn to hospice care and nursing home care for assistance.
There is a large misconception that hospice care and nursing home care are the same services. When in fact, hospice care and nursing home care are two distinct services. They can even be paired together when the patient requires it. Each has its benefits, but they meet different needs. Hospice of South Louisiana wants to share our expertise and explain what both hospice care and nursing home care provides, the patients they benefit most, and their availability on standard insurance plans.
What Hospice Care Offers
Hospice care offers patients who have been given six months or less to live symptom management, comfort, and support, so both they and their caregivers experience ease in their final phase of life. Hospice provides a comprehensive care team of certified physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, volunteers, and spiritual leaders who work together to offer:
- Pain and symptom management
- Consistently optimized care procedures as symptoms progress
- 24-hour care
- Access to Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapy
- Emotional and psychological counseling
- Nutrition management
- Assistance in daily tasks
- Social services
- Support to their family and friends
- Spiritual Guidance
To learn more about what hospice care provides, click here.
However, hospice care is more than a series of services; it is a mindset. Hospice teams develop care plans based on the patient’s expressed wishes, helping them achieve their highest quality of life. Hospice care teams are dedicated to partnering with the patient’s family to provide assistance through care management and treatment. When the time comes, the hospice care team stays connected to the patient’s family and helps them navigate the loss of their loved one.
Who Benefits From Hospice Care?
Hospice care is the most comprehensive care service for those whose terminal illness has been given a prognosis measurable in months. Additionally, if a patient has a chronic disease that is showcasing end-stage symptoms, hospice care is a wonderful tool to help patients and their families achieve comfort through a long and difficult illness.
In most cases, hospice teams serve the patient within the comfort of their own home. However, hospice teams are equipped to provide care to patients wherever they require it. Patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes benefit from hospice care teams.
What Nursing Home Care Offers
Nursing homes vary widely from facility to facility. Some are designed and function like a hospital. Others live up to their title and create the feeling of a home by offering open kitchens and unfixed daily schedules. Despite these large disparities, most all nursing homes provide:
- Room and Board
- Skilled nurses and nursing aides
- Assistance with personal care
- Around the clock emergency care
- Social Outlets and Recreational Activities
Who Benefits from Nursing Home Care?
Those who are unable to live on their own, lack a family support system, or who do not possess a home of their own, may need to be housed by a nursing home care facility. Unlike hospice care, nursing home care is not exclusively for those in their final phase of life or experiencing end-stage symptoms for a terminal illness. Some elderly people prefer to live in a nursing home facility where they will have access to organized activities and social experiences.
What Your Insurance Covers
Of course, financial considerations are essential when deciding on a care plan. Each type of insurance offers different levels of coverage for hospice and nursing home care plans.
Regular Medical Insurance
Hospice care is paid for by regular medical insurance.
Nursing Home Care
Nursing home expenses are not covered by regular medical insurance.
Those who qualify for Medicaid will have their hospice services paid for by Medicaid. Because hospice services are vital during a person’s final stage of life, Medicaid will step in and provide the required services if they are unable to pay for Medicare coverage.
Nursing Home Care
Those who meet financial and health criteria in Louisiana will have their nursing home care’s room and board paid for by Medicaid. To apply for Medicaid, Louisiana residents must only have $2,000 in assets and cannot give gifts of any amount 5 years prior to their application. Family Assets has created a helpful guide on how to access Medicaid for nursing homes and long term care. Because hospice and nursing home care are distinct services, Medicaid will pay for both simultaneously.
Original Medicare pays for hospice care. Those with Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) will have hospice care provided to them when they meet the following requirements:
- A doctor certifies that the patient is terminally ill with six months or less to live
- The patient wishes to receive comfort care instead of aggressive treatment
- The patient signs a statement to designate their choice of receiving hospice care over other Medicare-covered benefits
Some people use Medicare for their hospice services and rely on Medicaid for room and board in a nursing home facility.
Nursing Home Care
A nursing home’s room and board fees are not covered by Medicare. The only time Medicare offers nursing home care is when a patient has been discharged from the hospital with a Dr.’s referral stating that they require skilled care. In this case, Medicare will provide skilled care in the nursing home for 100 days following the patient is discharged.
Selecting the Appropriate Care Plan
Deciding whether Hospice or Nursing Home care is best for you is easy because they are two distinct services meeting a different set of needs. Hospice provides vital, comforting care in a patient’s final stage of life wherever they need it. Alternately, nursing homes offer extra assistance to those who cannot or prefer not to live alone in their elderly years. Because they are distinct, your insurance may overlap to provide both services. Those who choose to pay for nursing home care are still eligible for hospice.
Hospice Care in The Gulf South
If you or your loved one have reached the final stage of life and require the comprehensive and comforting care hospice provides, contact Hospice of South Louisiana. As the longest operating hospice agency in Southeast Louisiana, we have a legacy of helping our patients live as fully as possible based on their quality of life goals. You have the right to choose your hospice care provider, so choose time-proven quality and dedicated service–choose Hospice of South Louisiana.