Hospice care is provided by a hospice service. The hospice service's team of health care professionals will work with the patient's primary caregiver (usually a family member) to provide care and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The primary caregiver
When someone enters into hospice care, they are asked to pick someone to be their primary caregiver. Usually this is a family member or close friend. The primary caregiver works with the hospice team and patient to develop a care plan based on the patient's specific needs and preferences. The primary caregiver continues to be the main person to help make decisions for the patient throughout the length of hospice care.
For patients receiving in-home hospice care, the primary caregiver not only provides most of the physical care for the patient, but also helps with keeping records of symptoms and other problems. The primary caregiver can share the physical care responsibilities with other family members or hired caregivers, but takes responsibility for communication with the hospice team, and for scheduling caregivers in the home as needed.
For patients getting hospice care in a setting other than at home, the primary caregiver is considered to be a part of the hospice care team. The primary caregiver attends team meetings, helping to communicate the patient's needs and make care decisions.
If there is no family available to take on the primary caregiver role, the patient needs to work with the hospice team member who first comes to talk about services. They will also need to talk to their insurance company. There may or may not be other care setting options available, depending on insurance coverage and the types of hospice agencies or programs that are available.