What is Continuous Care?
Intensive Level of Care
The practice of offering around-the-clock hospice care at home is known as “continuous care.” When medically appropriate, hospice team members work in shifts of up to 24 hours for brief periods to help patients remain at home through a difficult time, rather than be admitted to a hospital. This intensive level of care is appropriate when a patient is having acute symptoms that can’t be managed by the primary caregiver. All hospices that receive funding from Medicare must offer continuous care.
24-Hour Hospice Care
If someone you love or care for is receiving hospice care, you should know that they can receive 24-hour home hospice care in a crisis for:
- Uncontrolled pain
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea that won’t ease up
- Change in level of consciousness
- Restlessness or agitation
Continuous care may include:
- Additional care by a hospice nurse or aide
- Support from a hospice physician who will consult with the patient’s personal physician
- Intensive, personal care wherever the patient calls home, whether that is a private residence, nursing home or assisted living community
Ask your hospice provider or of the provider you are considering what services their continuous care includes. Make sure you and your loved one receive the kind of 24-hour continuous care you deserve.
Four Levels of Care
VITAS offers four broad types, or levels, of care as defined by the Medicare hospice benefit:
- Routine home care. This is how we provide hospice care most often: in patients’ homes, long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
- Continuous care (Intensive Comfort Care®). When medically necessary, acute symptom management is provided at home or in another facility by hospice staff in shifts of up to 24 hours/day so the patient can avoid hospitalization.
- Inpatient care. If a patient’s needs cannot be managed at home, VITAS inpatient hospice units and special arrangements at other local facilities provide hospice care around the clock until the patient can return home.
- Respite care. Limited to up to five consecutive days, respite care provides a brief “respite” for the patient’s primary caregiver by admitting the home care patient to an institutional setting without meeting the “inpatient” pain and symptom management criteria.