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IPU Level of Care

When Symptoms Can't Be Managed at Home

Most of the time, hospice care is brought to the patient at home, since home is where most seriously ill people want to be: in familiar surroundings with familiar routines and familiar faces.

However, all hospices must offer inpatient care for pain control or acute or complex symptom management that cannot be managed in other settings. Inpatient care is provided in a facility-often a hospital, but also nursing facilities and free-standing hospice houses-that can provide round-the-clock clinical care.

Some patients may need the inpatient level of care to help them transition from hospitalized curative care to home hospice. Others receiving routine home care may have symptoms that become exacerbated. In either case, the patient usually receives inpatient care for a short period of time (3-5 days) until symptoms are under control, then returns home.

When Is Inpatient Hospice Care Appropriate?

Indications of the need for inpatient hospice care include:

IPU Body Image

  • Sudden deterioration requiring intensive nursing intervention
  • Dolor incontrolable
  • Uncontrolled nausea and vomiting
  • Pathological fractures
  • Respiratory distress that becomes unmanageable
  • Symptom relief via intravenous medications that require close monitoring
  • Wound care requiring complex and/or frequent dressing changes that cannot be managed in the patient’s residence
  • Severe agitated delirium, acute anxiety or depression secondary to the end-stage disease process requiring intensive intervention and not manageable in the home setting
  • Uncontrolled seizures
  • Minor procedures to aid in the comfort of the patient, such as removing fluid from the belly area (paracentesis) or placement of a permanent drain or tube.

The atmosphere in an inpatient hospice setting is markedly different from that of an acute care facility. It is calmer, its staff moving at a slower pace. They have time to talk with the patient, visit with the family, answer questions. Often the atmosphere is more homelike, too. All ages of family members and friends are welcome day and night, and arrangements may be made for overnight stays. But make no mistake: aggressive pain and symptom management is at work, with a goal of stabilizing the patient so they can return home.

Cuatro tipos de cuidados

VITAS ofrece cuatro tipos amplios, o niveles, de cuidados según la definición de los beneficios de hospicio de Medicare:

  • Cuidado de rutina a domicilio. This is how we provide cuidado de hospicio most often: in patients’ homes, long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
  • Cuidado continuo (Intensive Comfort Care®). When medically necessary, acute symptom management is provided at home or in another facility by hospice staff in shifts of up to 24 hours/day so the patient can avoid hospitalization.
  • Cuidado de pacientes hospitalizados. Si no se puede atender a las necesidades del paciente en su casa, se puede recurrir a las unidades de cuidados de hospicio para pacientes hospitalizados de VITAS y a otros servicios especiales en otros establecimientos locales que ofrecen cuidados de hospicio las veinticuatro horas hasta que el paciente pueda regresar a casa.
  • Cuidado temporal. Limited to up to five consecutive days, cuidado temporal provides a brief “respite” for the patient’s primary caregiver by admitting the home care patient to an institutional setting without meeting the “inpatient” pain and symptom management criteria.

Artículos relacionados

VITAS Inpatient Unit Location Listings

El cuidado temporal ayuda a aliviar el agotamiento del cuidador

Lleve el hospicio a su casa