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What is Hospice? It's a Full Range of Care

Hospice services are here to help you, explains Susan Acocella, a VITAS general manager.

Help During a Difficult Time

“Hospice is a full service that helps people through a very difficult period in their life,” says Susan Acocella, a general manager for VITAS Healthcare.

VITAS provides this full range of services by managing care and offering support to patients and their families in unique ways that correspond to their unique needs. It begins with standard home care and includes a number of specialized services.

“We give them choices about where they want their care delivered, what their goals of care are, how they want to feel psychosocially and clinically,” says Acocella.

Four Types 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.

Specialized Care

At VITAS, we make every effort to provide the best possible care to our patients and families. For this reason, we offer specialized care services, including, but not limited to:

  • Veterans care. Veterans have unique needs at the end of life, and VITAS has trained caregivers who understand and attend to those needs.
  • Music therapy. Music, in many forms, can address a patient’s emotional, cognitive and social needs.
  • Pet visits. Many of our hospice locations have pet volunteers who visit with patients and provide comfort. Our inpatient units allow family pets to visit.

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