Dr. Marie Morrison
Medical Director & Supervising Physician
Smoky Mountain Home Health and Hospice
Whether in one’s own home, a nursing facility, an assisted living community or hospice house – comfort care is brought to each and every patient in the form of Hospice. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identifies four levels of Hospice care which can vary from a few days to several months depending on the individual needs. One person may experience all four levels over their time with hospice services while another only requires one level; regardless, you can be sure that your loved ones will receive personalized attention at any stage. Hospice care comes in four distinct levels, all of which are designed to meet the individual needs of each hospice patient. As required by Medicare-certified hospices, these essential services must be provided:
Level 1: Routine Home Care
When you’re not in an emergency health situation, at-home care services provide necessary support. Your hospice care team is ready to assist wherever you are – your home, a nursing facility, or an assisted living center – bringing the comfort and expertise of their assistance right to where you need it most. The hospice care team consists of doctors, nurses, Hospice aide services, therapists, social workers, spiritual support, and more.
Level 2: Continuous Care
During critical times, when your health complications become more severe and require greater levels of nursing attention, continuous home care is available to ensure you remain in the comfort of your own house. This service requires at least 8 hours per day from a nurse; though other members from the hospice team will be by for assistance as well, no less than half must be provided by the registered nurse. Read more about the service here.
Level 3: General Inpatient Care (GIP)
If you are in a situation where your symptoms become too severe to treat at home, then receiving inpatient hospice care might be the best option for you. In this case, experienced nurses will provide medication, treatments and support on an ongoing basis. You can obtain these services from three different places: free-standing hospice facilities; hospital-based units; or nursing homes/skilled nursing centers.
Level 4: Respite Care
Caring for a beloved family member in hospice can be emotionally and physically overwhelming, which is why Medicare allows respite care services to provide much-needed relief. Respite care is an invaluable gift that centers around the needs of your caregiver – offering them temporary breaks from their duties by providing short stays at hospitals or other facilities so they have time to recharge. If someone is not eligible for constant or inpatient care, yet their family needs support, respite care could be an opportunity. However, this approach has a maximum of 5 days before the patient returns home. Utilizing respite care can give families much-needed relief; however it does come with its limitations as well. Read more about respite care here.
Who Decides Which Level of Care?
In order to receive one or all of these four levels of hospice care, your doctor must certify that you are not likely to survive more than six months due to an illness. If a higher level of medical assistance is needed, the attending physician needs to declare it as mandatory for continued service.
To learn more from Medicare, please click see the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual.
If you, or a loved one is in need of hospice services, or if you have any questions, please contact Smoky Mountain Home Health and Hospice or call us at (423) 623-0233.