Hospice Versus Home Health Care

Hospice Versus Home Health Care

If you are a loved one of or caretaker to someone who is experiencing either physical or mental decline, you will likely have many questions about how to care for them. Being a caregiver certainly is a full-time task so many people require the help of either a hospice or home health service. The following sections will help you determine which of these services fits your situation by clarifying the differences between the two.

Is The Client Terminally Ill Or Capable Of Some Independence?

Clients of hospice services have been determined to be terminally ill, or suffering from a fatal illness with only a limited amount of time left to live. The health care provider of the client will determine when the client has reached this point in their health journey and discuss timelines and options with the family. On the other hand, clients who benefit from home care services may not be able to be totally independent at all times but they aren’t terminally ill. These people may be clients of the service provider for many years instead of a couple of months. Below we will discuss how these timelines greatly influence the type care that is given.


Home Health: Promoting Independence

The main goals of home health agencies are to enable the client to be independent and ensure the clients safety. Many people in their life will experience a time during which they want to be independent but it isn’t necessarily safe for them to do so. Having an agent with home care either stay with or frequently care for these clients helps them to stay within their own home while making sure their basic needs are met. The level of care can vary quite a bit depending on the clients needs but generally includes help with hygiene, meal preparation, and light housekeeping. Other clients may need the regular attention of a registered nurse or therapist. Even though these clients will have access to regular help, they will also likely be encouraged to do as much as they are medically able to so that their health won’t decline.


Hospice: Offering Comfort

Clients of this service will usually only receive palliative care. Palliative care means care that is designed to offer the patient comfort by reducing pain. This type of care doesn’t include measures that are designed to extend the patient’s lifespan or promote their independence. Again, clients of this type of service are terminally ill so providing them with less pain is the last treatment they will receive when all other options have been exhausted. It is important to note that this service is often performed in the client’s home but this is not an independence measure, it simply allows them the amenities of home such as their bed and family.


The Physician’s Role In The Decision

Ultimately, the decision of entering either type of care service will be up to the client or their medical power of attorney. However, the decision making process will likely include several discussions between the physician, client, and family members. It is important that this dialogue is open so that there isn’t any confusion about what expectations are realistic.

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