The Importance of Early Hospice Care
One of the most interesting and possibly alarming figures reported by the NHPCO Facts and Figures 2021 is that in 2019, the last year of record, the median length of stay at a hospice was 18 days. That means that half of hospice patients only spend 18 days under that kind of care.
Does this point to a bigger problem?
Perhaps. When we understand why hospice care exists, we start to realize the importance of early hospice care for those who need it most. We know, says the NHPCO, that hospice care is “considered the model for quality compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness, hospice provides expert
medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Support is provided to the patient’s family as well.”
When we understand this, we understand the importance of early hospice caret, and also have the right reasons as to why one would want a loved one who qualifies for hospice to receive hospice care sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, the word “hospice” has grown to have a negative connotation in many people’s minds. The Hospice Foundation of America has created a list of myths people believe about hospice. Among them:
Hospice is giving up
Hospice is where you go to die
It’s the doctor’s responsibility to bring up hospice
(We would recommend you go through this list here.)
Part of this seems evident in the statistic given earlier above; that 50% of Hospice patients are under that kind of care only 18 days. But how could being more time in hospice benefit both the patient and their family?
A journal article published in the “The Milbank Quarterly” titled, “Increased Access to Palliative Care and Hospice Services: Opportunities To Improve Value in Health Care” found that “palliative care and hospice services improve patient-centered outcomes such as pain, depression, and other symptoms.”
We can agree that improving both pain and depression in patients is a good thing, and a worthy pursuit. The question is how best is this treated? Can the answer be found perhaps in the collaboration of patients, loved ones and medical professionals?
What hospice care delivers is the expertise and experience that patient and loved ones often lack. And while hospice teams care deeply about their patients, the love and care of a significant other, child or dear friend is not something easily replaced.
And so, it makes sense to give to the patient the best of both worlds. A family that understands their individual needs best, with a team of professionals that can provide those needs expertly.
But how can we raise awareness among those that do qualify for hospice and their families but yet, have not enrolled? Simple, gather all the facts that you can and get the right care at the right time.
At One Point Hospice you can talk with one of our team members and get the information you need. You can learn how we can help you bring the best care either to yourself or those whom you love that need our services. Don’t wait another day and reach out now.
It is important to note that hospice neither seeks to pro-long life or shorten it since Hospice Care inherently carries with it the belief that death is a natural part of life.
With this thought in mind then, any Hospice Care team worth their salt seeks to give patients the best quality of care and life it can possibly manage under the circumstance. As One Point Hospice states it’s all about “the right care at the right time.”
This however needs to be best understood by both the patients that qualify for Hospice Care and the loved ones who help make these decisions. In a report titled “Access to Hospice Care: Expanding Boundaries, Overcoming Barriers” who’s purpose “is to contribute to the broad goal of improving end of life care by addressing specific problems in access to and delivery of hospice care…” we can learn that while everyone’s idea of reform to the health industry varies, we can understand that, “too many Americans approach death without adequate medical, nursing, social, and spiritual support.”*
*(JENNINGS, BRUCE, et al. “Access to Hospice Care: Expanding Boundaries, Overcoming Barriers.” The Hastings Center Report, vol. 33, no. 2, [The Hastings Center, Wiley], 2003, pp. S3–59, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41637828.)