Respite care is short-term inpatient care for the purpose of providing relief for the patient’s caregiver.
Caregiving for a terminally ill patient can be stressful and challenging. Care giving activities may even increase as the patient approaches end of life. Increased activities usually include more frequent medications, more frequent assistance with feeding, toileting, and other activities of daily living.
These increased activities can result in physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, depression, fatigue and anxiety, all together referred to as “caregiver burnout.” To prevent caregiver burnout situations, it is essential that those taking care of the dying also take care of themselves by getting plenty of rest and making time for themselves away from the demands of caregiving.
Also, caregivers may need time to attend a family event such as a graduation, wedding, funeral, etc. Additionally, caregivers can also become temporarily ill and unable to take care the patient.
End-of-life patients receiving hospice services are eligible for respite care, covered by the Medicare hospice benefit. Respite care allows a family caregiver to get a break from caregiving duties while the patient is cared for in a Medicare-certified inpatient facility. Inpatient respite care is authorized for up to 5 days.
During this time, the hospice team continues to expedite the patient’s plan of care, while the facility staff provides the care that would have been given by the family caregiver.