The Four Levels of Hospice Care for Terminally Ill Patients

Hospice care has four levels. Some patients may experience all these levels in one or two weeks of being under the care of a hospice facility. Hospice care services in Indiana and nearby cities address specific needs in each level of care. Given that each patient’s case is different, it is important to know what is included in each level or variation of hospice care.

Level 1: Routine Home Care

Routine home care is considered as the basic level of care within the hospice service. If the patient lives in a nursing home, it is referred to as routine nursing home care and it comes with the following benefits.

  • Physician participation
  • Social services
  • Counseling services (pastoral, bereavement, spiritual, and dietary)
  • Nursing services
  • Medical equipment
  • Therapy services
  • Home health aide services
  • Medications
  • Medical supplies
  • Laboratory and further diagnostic research pertaining to any diagnosis categorized as critical

Level 2: Continuous Home Care

In continuous home care, a nurse or home health aide will stay in the patient’s house or nursing facility for eight up to 24 hours each day. Continuous care is a short-term level of care renewed every after 24 hours. It is highly needed if a patient suffers from the following conditions.

  • Serious nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Unrelieved pain
  • Serious shortness of breath
  • A breakdown in the main caregiver support system

senior woman with her caregiver

Level 3: General Inpatient Care

There are patients who suffer from severe short-term symptoms that they cannot access quality treatment at home, or they like getting treated at an inpatient facility. Symptoms that require inpatient care are similar to those in continuous care. It is only the care environment that is different.

In addition, in this level of care, nurses are available 24/7 to provide treatments, medications, and emotional support to the patients. There are different facilities that provide inpatient hospice services, including the following.

  • An inpatient hospice unit inside the hospital
  • A hospice unit situated in a professional nursing facility (nursing home)
  • A freestanding facility owned and managed by a hospice company

Level 4: Respite Care

Respite care services are focused on the family rather than the patient. If the main source of care is the patient’s family but now, they can no longer comply with all the required needs of their loved ones due to several reasons, the patient can be temporarily admitted with the inpatient facility.

This helps give the family a much-needed break. As primary caregivers, they also need rest to be able to take care of the patient. Respite care only lasts for five days and once it is over, the patient will be discharged and sent home.

To qualify for hospice care, the doctor of the patient needs to officially decide that the patient is terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less. Then, the decision of whether to treat the patient at a higher level of care is decided by the hospice physician. These four levels of care guarantee that no terminally ill patient will ever be left out.

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