When is a Patient Eligible for Hospice Care?

A patient qualifies for hospice when curative treatments are no longer available or wanted, and their life expectancy is determined to be six months or less by a physician. As a healthcare professional, you will refer your patient to Transitions by calling us at 847-515-1505, or by using our online referral tool Once this is done, we take it from there, working with the patient and their family to ensure they receive a unique care plan that best fits their medical needs. 

Although a six months or less diagnosis is required for admission, hospice care does not stop after six months. If a patient lives longer than 6 months after admission, Transitions services remain as long as the patient wishes to continue receiving comfort focused care rather than curative treatment and qualifies for hospice care. Throughout the process, we are more than willing to provide updates to you on your patients’ health, care plan, and the treatments they are receiving.

The Four Levels of Hospice Care

1. Routine Care

Routine Home Care is the most basic level of hospice care. In this stage, care teams serve the patients wherever they reside. The team includes registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, certified nurses aides, social workers, volunteers, a physician, and a chaplain, and offers a comprehensive plan of care that is tailored to each patient’s needs. Medications and medical equipment will be brought directly to the patient or caregiver, and our care team will develop a plan of care and visit frequently to meet the patient’s needs.

2. Continuous Hospice Care

In this level of care, a nurse or certified nursing aide (CNA) will remain at bedside for as long as the patient qualifies for continuous care. When the patient is experiencing symptoms that cause severe pain and require frequent interventions, such as medication administration, the patient will qualify for this level of care. The goal of continuous care is to get the symptoms under control and to become manageable with routine hospice care. Continuous care is important because it allows the patient to remain at home through a difficult time instead of being uprooted into a hospital. 

Some examples of acute conditions that may require continuous hospice care include: uncontrolled pain, trouble breathing, extreme nausea, changes in consciousness, and seizures.

3. Inpatient Care

When symptoms require an advanced level of care that is beyond routine hospice or continuous care, a patient will enter the “inpatient” level of hospice. This often occurs when the patient needs 24-hour pain control or acute or complex symptom management that cannot be provided at home. In its entirety, the goal of inpatient care is to control severe pain and symptoms so that the patient can return home to familiar surroundings and continue with routine hospice care. 

This level of care can be provided within a skilled nursing facility or any facility contracted to operate an inpatient unit.

4. Respite Care

The fourth level of hospice care is respite care, where a home hospice patient is admitted into a facility for a short period of time. The goal of this care is to provide a short-term break for family caregivers who are assisting a loved one with an advanced illness. These services can be offered at either a hospital, hospice facility, or skilled nursing facility that is able to provide 24-hour care. It is essential that those taking care of loved ones are able to take breaks and avoid “caregiver burnout”.  These “breaks” can last up to 5 days and plans for respite care are developed directly with family members of the patient.