“Money! Are you freaking kidding me?!? All hospice is is a greedy money making killing machine! Nice tools you have here to streamline the death of loved ones! Not once did I read where you acknowledge that you are putting souls into eternity! God help us!”
While many people are scared of hospice and don’t understand hospice, in all the years I worked in hospice and since then, in health-tech for local hospice agencies, I can count on one hand the number of people who have been as negative towards hospice as this was letter we recently received.
The majority of people providing hospice care, by a huge margin, are altruistic, caring, and will go far above and beyond to deliver exception personalized and individualized care.
And the overwhelming number of family members I’ve heard from during and after a loved one’s stay on hospice have been thankful and appreciative – especially those who did not quite understand hospice before tragedy struck.
However, for those of us involved with delivering hospice care, we often focus the hospice discussion on the comfort hospice provides, the intangible and hard to quantify benefits of support, and help and comfort. Unfortunately we often forget to focus on, and too many people out there still do not understand, that hospice is a defined form of medical care. The patient must have a specific diagnosis and the expectation of the terminal illness must be certified by medical professionals.
While hospice care is not curative and rather is on pain and symptom relief, it is not some hippie dippie pie-in-the-sky make it up as you go practice. Hospice is a radically different path of medicine compared to the rest of the continuum of care in medicine. But that is because medicine recognizes the patient is now in a radically different place along the continuum.
Here are 6 points to remind us some of the medical benefits of hospice
6 Points on the Medical Benefits of Hospice
- “Patients with terminal lung cancer who immediately upon diagnosis not only were happier, more mobile and in less pain as the end neared but they also lived nearly three months longer, ” according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine
- “Increasing hospice services can reduce hospital admissions among all residents of a nursing home, including those not enrolled in hospice,” according to findings recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association
- “For every 10% increase in “hospice penetration” at a given facility, the risk of hospitalization decreases 5.1% for non-hospice residents and 4.8% for hospice-enrolled residents, the investigators determined.”
- “For the new study, published in JAMA, the researchers used data on nearly 40,000 Medicare patients with poor-prognosis cancers who died in 2011. Half the group chose hospice, and half didn‘t. The hospice and non-hospice patients were matched by age, sex, place of residence, survival and how many healthcare services they were using. Nonhospice patients had more hospitalizations, more stays in intensive care units, and more invasive procedures compared to patients who opted for hospice, the researchers found.”
- “Those receiving hospice care, compared with matched control patients not receiving hospice care, had significantly lower rates of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and invasive procedures at the end of life.”
- “Family members believe that nursing home hospice improves quality of care for symptoms, reduces hospitalizations, and adds value and services for dying nursing home residents.”
Everyone who delivers hospice care has anecdotes of patients who came on hospice care and because of the support, and love, and help, and often by discontinuing hard or invasive curative treatments, has seen the patient gain weight and strength and rally far past the expected progression of their disease. When speaking about hospice and educating families and the community, It’s important to include the medical befits of hospice.
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