What is Hospice Respite Care?

Taking care of a terminally ill loved one can be rewarding and exhausting – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some days are unique because they allow you to make meaningful memories that you will cherish forever. Other days challenge you to the end of your endurance. A respite care program can assist caregivers in staying balanced and preventing burnout. 

Inpatient respite care is short-term, inpatient care designed to give caregivers a break. In a Medicare-approved hospice facility, Medicare may cover transportation and five (5) consecutive days of in-patient care. You can use respite care more than once, but only once during each benefit period. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase “benefit period,” it refers to the 90 days of hospice care that your loved one can receive before having to re-certify their eligibility. 

Why Would Respite Care Be Requested?

Being a primary caregiver is an admirable undertaking. Caregiving requires perseverance, patience, and strength. Managing it takes a lot of time, and it can quickly become overwhelming. With the challenges of caregiving, you might request respite care for many reasons, including:

Getting increased care for your loved one.

Throughout the hospice journey, there may be times when your loved one will experience uncontrollable pain and symptom management. This may be too much for you to handle at your home. You can request in-patient care where your loved one can receive the medical care they need for severe symptoms.

Attending important events

Life keeps moving, even when you are caring for a terminally ill loved one. There will still be weddings, graduations, or other events that you may need to attend. The caregiver can take a few days off to attend these events without worrying about medical care while respite care is in place.

Recovery from an illness

If you catch a cold, the flu, or some other transmittable sickness, you definitely don’t want to pass that illness on to your terminally ill loved one. Respite allows you to recover from your own sickness before returning to care for a loved one.

Focusing on personal health

Caregivers often neglect their own needs and dedicate their time, energy, and effort to caring for their dying loved one. Caretakers often suffer from depression, insomnia, changes in appetite, or become more susceptible to illnesses due to their responsibilities. The purpose of respite care is to allow you to relax and focus on your health in order to come back feeling renewed.

Take a break

Over time, you may begin to experience ‘caregiver burnout’ – physical and emotional exhaustion. Respite care will allow you to take a few days off to recharge and care for yourself. The break allows you to rest and relax without worrying about the level of care your terminally ill loved one is receiving.

Benefits of Respite Care
Benefits for Caregiver
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy
  • Improved outlook
  • Reduced levels of stress and anxiety

You may feel as though requesting respite care demonstrates your weakness or that you are incapable of caring for a loved one, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is – what you’re doing is difficult and exhausting. Knowing your limits and taking time to care for yourself is healthy. As a result, you will be able to provide better quality care and be at your best when your loved one needs you most.

Benefits for Patient/Loved One
  • Increased social interaction opportunities
  • Improved relationship with the caregiver(Stress can affect both caregiver and patient)
  • Reduced gilt over their caregiver’s stress or anxiety

It’s beautiful and good to receive care at home from a loved one, but at times, everyone needs a break. With respite care, both caregiver and patient can come back together more refreshed.