Hospice House

Also known as: Inpatient Hospice, Free-Standing Hospice Facility

Last Updated: January 2, 2022

Written by the Open Caregiving Team. Editorial review by Joyce O. Murphy RN, MSN.

What is a hospice house?

A hospice house is a peaceful, home-like setting for people who are terminally ill and their loved ones. Hospice houses are designed to provide comfort and typically include:

  • Private rooms, often with a sitting area that adjoins the patient’s room.
  • Gardens and walking paths.
  • Kitchen facilities that families are welcome to use.
  • A nondenominational chapel for meditation, prayer, or quiet contemplation.
  • A family lounge, perhaps with a playspace for children.

Learn more about general hospice information on our hospice page.

How does a hospice house work?

Hospice houses share a common philosophy. That is to provide people in their care with a private, restful setting. The house’s staff are compassionate and attuned to the special needs of those who are terminally ill, their family, and friends. Staff include:

  • A doctor or nurse practitioner who oversees care of residents.
  • Licensed hospice nurses who have training and are skilled in the care needs of those who are dying. They are in tune with the needs of a patient’s loved ones.
  • Certified nursing assistants who are also skilled in their care of hospice home residents and visitors.
  • Hospice support staff such as bereavement counselors are available to visit with patients and families at the hospice house.

Each hospice house has a set number of residence rooms. Because of that a patient’s hospice team plans ahead to assure there will be a room available when needed.

  • For a person in at-home care: the family and nurse case manager discuss options then plan for when the family member should move to the hospice house.
  • For a person in the hospital: the social worker and medical staff make a referral to the hospice house. The patient is then transferred there when a room is available.

The hospice team then works with the family to update their loved one’s plan of care.

  • This includes last wishes, such as having a favorite meal if able to do so.
  • The plan assures that pain is kept to a minimum while allowing a person to be as alert as they choose.
  • In some cases, special considerations are made for good-bye moments, such as those with a beloved pet.

The hospice house can be a place where some hospice patients live for a few days while their pain management is addressed. For these people, the goal is to return home and remain there in comfort. This also gives caregivers time for respite and self-care.

When does someone need a hospice house?

Patients and families choose a hospice house when:

  • Their care needs are too great for an at-home setting, yet they are lingering in a hospital.
  • Care needs, comfort and pain management are too complex for caregivers in the patient’s home.
  • Caregivers benefit from support that allows them to focus on their time with their loved one. They may be emotionally and physically exhausted because of care needs and family obligations.

How long can you stay at a hospice house?

A stay at a hospice house is typically three to seven days. In some cases, a person will stay for up to five days, then returning home after their comfort level improves.

How much does a hospice house cost?

All hospice care must be managed by your loved one’s hospice team to be eligible for Medicare payment.

  • This includes staying at a hospice house.
    • The house must be associated with the hospice provider you’ve chosen.
    • The hospice team needs to decide that a hospice house stay is needed for Medicare to pay for this care.
  • If the hospice patient is there for respite care needs, there may be a small co-pay for the stay.
  • Your loved one’s hospice team is available to answer your questions. They will help you to navigate Medicare and learn about what it will pay for your loved one’s care.

How can I find a hospice house in my area?

Use this Medicare locator to find hospice organizations in your area. They should be able to tell you where to find a hospice house or facility, such as a hospice wing in a nursing home.

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