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Another critical service of hospice is respite for the caregiver, which is covered by Medicare. During the time of respite care, the patient is cared for in a Medicare-approved facility, such as a hospice house, hospital or nursing home. The stay may last up to five days at a time, and these is no limit to the number of stays.

To provide additional support for the patient and caregiver, many hospices have an on-call staff available to make visits whenever needed 24 hours a day. Home health aides to assist with patient’s personal hygiene and care, and homemakers also help to provide comfort for the patients.

There is no predetermined checklist and no real limits to meeting the needs of hospice patients and their families. While some patients require home visits by their care team, others may require continuous care during periods of medical crisis, which hospice can provide. Many families experience a financial crisis as a result of the illness, and hospice can help ease the burden by providing the needed medications, equipment, supplies, and professional services, and eliminating some co-pays.