How We Help Home Healthcare Agencies
As Americans live longer, a greater number of them will have multiple chronic conditions, such as dementia, heart failure, chronic lung disease and limited-to-declining functional independence.
Home healthcare is ideal for patients who are stable or improving. But patient decline is distressing for everyone, especially if it involves repeated hospitalizations or failure to achieve therapy goals.
VITAS is a positive solution to this type of home healthcare challenge. Your patient is elevated to the appropriate level of care for improved quality of life, and the agency sees improved satisfaction scores, lower readmission rates, and reduced partial episode payments.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a hospice-eligible patient look like?
Your home healthcare patients might be ready for a hospice evaluation if they do not show signs of improvement.
While symptoms vary from one individual to another, they may include:
- Uncontrolled or increased pain
- Progressive decline despite maximal medical therapies
- Increased difficulty breathing
- Increased difficulty swallowing
- Progressive edema (swelling)
- Uncontrolled nausea/vomiting
- Oxygen dependence
- Progressive weight loss
- Progressive renal insufficiency
- Frequent infections
- Frequent hospitalizations
- Profound weakness, fatigue
What are the benefits of hospice care for the patient?
Hospice services and palliative care support the patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
The patient remains at home, and VITAS can titrate the level of care according to the patient's needs. The patient maintains quality of life and control over day-to-day decisions for as long as possible.
VITAS also provides:
- An interdisciplinary team, consisting of a nurse, social worker, physician, chaplain and hospice aide, supported by services as needed for optimal care.
- When medically necessary, VITAS provides care for up to 24 hours a day to manage a patient's symptoms at home.
- VITAS can continue to provide care to patients admitted to assisted living communities and nursing homes and can initiate care to existing residents.
- Care can be provided in an inpatient setting for short stays to manage uncontrolled symptoms or to provide family relief.
- Prescription and over-the-counter drugs related to the hospice diagnosis are provided at no charge to the patient.
- All equipment and supplies related to the hospice diagnosis are provided and covered 100 percent.
- VITAS' 24/7 Telecare® service connects patients and their caregivers with hospice clinicians who can quickly review electronic information about the patient.
- Bereavement counseling is an integral part of service to families for at least one year following a death.
- Trained volunteers are available for patient and family support.
- VITAS accepts Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, private insurance and other forms of reimbursement for its hospice services.
How can VITAS help my agency?
VITAS works with agencies and attending physicians whose patients who may qualify for a hospice evaluation.
Agencies that refer declining patients early to VITAS for hospice care might experience some of the following benefits:
- Appropriate secondary site of care
- Assistance with attaining a more balanced case mix
- Improved Home Health Compare ratings and satisfaction levels
- Compliance with accreditation entities
Who orders hospice?
Anyone can request a hospice discussion.
A family can request a hospice evaluation if the patient resides in a private residence, although a VITAS admissions team member will need to conduct an evaluation and coordinate with the patient's primary physician to make sure the patient meets federal hospice eligibility guidelines.
For patients residing in an acute or post-acute facility, a physician's order is required for an evaluation and hospice order.
Referrals can be made around the clock by calling 866.41.VITAS or visiting VITAS.com/referrals. You need to supply basic patient information; a VITAS admissions clinician interviews the patient and/or family, contacts the physician and admits the patient, if eligible.
How do VITAS services differ from home healthcare services?
Hospice is for patients near the end of life, while home health can be for patients with any prognosis.
Hospice care is comfort care for patients with a prognosis of six months or less if their disease runs its natural course, as certified by a physician.
Home health services are brought to patients who require intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech-language pathology services or continued occupational services, as prescribed by their doctor. The patient's progress must be documented.