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Receipt of Hospice Aide Visits Among Medicare Beneficiaries Receiving Home Hospice Care

      Abstract

      Context

      Hospice aides provide essential direct care to hospice patients, yet there is minimal research examining hospice aide visits.

      Objectives

      describe the prevalence and frequency of hospice aide visits, and 2) evaluate patient, community, and hospice characteristics associated with these visits.

      Methods

      Longitudinal cohort study of Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) participants who died between 2010-2018 and received routine hospice care in the 6 months prior to death (n = 674). We characterized prevalence and frequency of hospice aide visits over time and used generalized linear modelling to identify factors associated with visits.

      Results

      64% of hospice enrollees received hospice aide visits and average visit frequency (1.3 per week) remained stable throughout enrollment. The only patient characteristic associated with receipt of hospice aide visits was primary hospice diagnosis (respiratory diagnosis vs. dementia: OR 0.372, P = 0.040). Those living in community-based residential housing and those cared for by hospices with aides employed as staff were more likely to receive any hospice aide visits (OR 2.331, P = 0.047 and OR 4.612, P = 0.002, respectively.)

      Conclusion

      Hospice aide visits are a common component of hospice care, but visit frequency does not increase as death approaches. Receipt of hospice aide visits was primarily associated with community and hospice agency (rather than patient) characteristics. Future work is needed to ensure that hospice aides are integrated in the hospice interdisciplinary team and that access to hospice aide visits is meaningfully driven by patient and family needs, rather than the practice norms and business models of individual hospice agencies.

      Key Words

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