Hospice nurse with a  patient.

Respite care is short-term relief for in-home hospice caregivers. Medicare benefits pay for patient transport and up to five consecutive days of inpatient care at a Medicare-approved nursing facility or hospital. You can get respite care more than once, but only on an occasional basis.

Hospice respite care enables the caregiver to rest and recover from the demands of daily in-home care. Respite care is also appropriate when a patient’s medical condition warrants a short-term inpatient stay for pain or other symptoms that cannot be managed at home.

Does Medicare cover respite care?

Medicare guidelines allow for more than one respite occurrence, with each period lasting no more than five days in a row. The five-days of respite include the day of admission, but not the day of discharge.

What are common needs for inpatient respite?

  • You are physically or emotionally exhausted
  • Caregivers needing help with complex pain or other symptoms
  • You would like to attend an important or required life event
  • You are ill and need time to recover

Important facts to know

  • Care must be prearranged and approved by the hospice provider.
  • Continuous home care is not Medicare approved as respite care.
  • Hospice respite is not generally appropriate for patients in a nursing facility with 24/7 care.
  • Talk with your hospice provider about Medicare respite rules. They have experience with Medicare and state rules regarding hospice respite care.

Benefits of hospice respite care for family caregivers

Family members who take time to rest and recover are better hospice caregivers. They suffer less burnout and have more energy to devote to loved ones.

Restoration comes from knowing your source of joy so you can share that comfort with others. Sometimes it's giving yourself permission to rediscover a hobby or try a new one. Reconnecting with friends can recharge your soul.

Hospice volunteers can help with day-to-day relief

Our volunteers offer caregivers the gift of free time to take care of daily duties. All of our volunteers are professionally trained. Volunteers provide companionship to the patient and respite for the caregiver, including:

  • Friendly visits
  • Reading to patients or writing letters
  • Light housekeeping and meal preparation
  • Running errands
  • Hair care

The Programs called All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) may cover respite care in some situations. Learn more on the PACE plan website.