As defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there are four levels of hospice care that every Medicare-certified hospice provider must provide:
- Routine Home Care: In this level of care, which is the most common level, patients receive their care at home or in their private place of residence, including assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
- Continuous Home Care: If a patient’s symptoms require continuous care, then hospice staff will provide up to 24-hour care in the home so that the patient can avoid hospitalization.
- General Inpatient Care: If a patient’s symptoms and needs are so severe that they can’t be managed at home, then they may receive treatment at an inpatient facility where around the clock care will be provided.
- Respite Care: If a patient does not match the requirements for continuous care or inpatient care, but the primary caregiver needs a break or cannot meet the patient’s needs due to stress, then a patient may be admitted to an inpatient facility to give the family a much-needed break. Respite care is meant to be brief and is limited to five consecutive days.
Every hospice patient is unique and their needs will differ, so one patient may experience all four levels throughout their time in hospice and another may experience only one level of care during their time.