Hospice Care With Palliative Services Provided in Assisted Living: What You Need to Know

Many people use the terms hospice care and palliative care synonymously. While there are some similarities between the two types of care services, they are not synonymous, they are not the same. In this article we discuss hospice care with palliative services provided to residents of a California assisted living community. In providing information about hospice case with palliative services in an assisted living community, we discuss these key topics:

  • What is hospice care?
  • What is palliative care?
  • What is hospice care with palliative services?
  • What is assisted living?
  • How can you have palliative care in assisted living?
  • How can you have hospice care in assisted living?

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is for people who are in the final stages of an incurable illness or disease. The aim is to ensure they are comfortable, and able to live their last days as fully as possible. Before a person can enter hospice care, a doctor has to confirm that the individual appears to have six months or less to live. 

Hospice care professionals do not cure diseases. Instead, they treat a person’s symptoms to improve their quality of life. They also aim to include family members and caregivers in decisions that affect a person’s care as much as possible. In addition, there are services provided to family members and care givers as well.

People can receive hospice care in any one of the following settings:

  • at home
  • in the hospital
  • at an extended care facility, such as a nursing home or assisted living community
  • at a specialized hospice center

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is care meant to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. A person need not be within six months of death in order to receive palliative care.

Palliative care can be provided in a situation in which an individual is no longer receiving curative treatment. But, unlike hospice care, this is not a requirement. Palliative care can be provided in addition to treatment designed to cure the disease, condition, or illness. 

Palliative care is an approach to care that addresses the person as a whole, not just their disease. The goal is to prevent or treat, as early as possible, the symptoms and side effects of the disease and its treatment. Palliative care is also designed to assist with any associated psychological, social, and spiritual problems that stem from the health status of the individual. 

People can receive palliative care no matter the stage of their illness. As is the case with hospice care, palliative care can be received in settings that include:

  • at home
  • in the hospital
  • at an extended care facility, such as a nursing home or assisted living community
  • at a specialized hospice center

What Is Hospice Care With Palliative Services?

In some instances, a person receiving palliative care during the treatment process will reach a juncture at which further curative assistance may no longer make sense. In other words, a disease or condition that it fairly can be classified as incurable. 

A decision may be made to discontinue curative treatment. A doctor may have concluded that an individual has less than six months to live.

An individual in this situation is able to continue palliative care as a transition is made into hospice care. The palliative care and hospice care teams will work together to fashion a unified or comprehensive care plan for the individual who is transitioning into hospice care. 

What Is Assisted Living?

In basic terms, assisted living is a senior living option for those individuals have more minimal needs of assistance with activities of daily living and related issues. The underlying purpose of assisted living is to aid older adults to live as independently as possible in a safe environment.

Individual care plans are created for people when they move into assisted living. These care plans are reviewed with regularity to ascertain if there needs to be any change in the nature or type of assistance being provided to an assisted living residence.

How Can You Have Palliative Care in Assisted Living?

A resident of assisted living can have palliative care as needed. An example is the best way to help illustrate how, why, and when an assisted living resident might access palliative care.

Before diving further into a discussion of palliative care as a resident of assisted living, an important clarification must be made. An assisted living community does not provide palliative care directly for its residents. With that said, staff of an assisted living community might be able to make recommendations regarding a suitable service that provides palliative care.

A resident of assisted living might need to undergo some type of challenging surgery. In the aftermath of the procedure, that resident might determine that obtaining palliative care is a wise course to take to assist with various aspects of that individual’s recovery, including such things as pain management and symptom relief. 

How Can You Have Hospice Care in Assisted Living?

A California assisted living community has the legal ability to obtain what is known as a hospice waiver. In basic terms, a hospice waiver from the state of California permits an assisted living community the ability to have a specific number of residents in hospice care at any one point in time. 

As a consequence, if an assisted living community has available space for another hospice patient, a resident of that facility would have the ability to seek approval to be on hospice care in the assisted living community. If an assisted living community was already at capacity with the number of residents permitted to be on hospice care at any one time, a resident seeking to be on assisted living would need to make plans to relocate. In the alternative, if there is a strong indication that a space might open up in the more immediate future, a resident would have the ability to wait to engage hospice services into the not too distant future (if that is possible). Otherwise, a person would need to being the process of moving into a hospice facility or into another assisted living community that has the space for one more resident in hospice.