The Importance of Access to Hospice Care
Hospice offers patients individualized expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support at the end of life. Although the critical importance of access to better end-of-life care is gaining attention, many factors continue to stand in the way of hospice being a choice.
All too often, hospice is considered too late—or not at all.
Research shows that hospice care improves a patient’s quality of life by reducing distress and hospitalizations. The hospice interdisciplinary team is ideally suited to provide care and support to patients and family caregivers throughout the last months of life, not just the last days.
However, more often than not, hospice enrollment comes late. Recent research out of the Yale School of Medicine and published by the Journal of the American Geriatric Society suggests that individuals who access hospice care often do so too late to benefit fully. According to a study conducted by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in 2015, just over 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries accessing hospice received care for 14 days or less in 2015.
Hospice care is frequently misunderstood and leaves many patients and families wishing that they knew about its benefits sooner. In fact, individuals receive the greatest benefits when hospice care is started early. By ensuring individuals and their families understand hospice, maybe we can improve access to care.
Hospice care fast facts
- Hospice care is for individuals of all ages with a life-limiting disease, illness, or condition.
- Choosing hospice care is not “giving up” but instead maximizing the quality of life left.
- Hospice is not expensive. Medicare and most private insurance plans can cover the cost of hospice.
- Hospice care is not final. Should a patient’s medical condition improve or new treatment become available, individuals can discontinue hospice care.
- Care does not end with the passing of a patient. Hospice provides bereavement care to families for a full year after the death of a family member.
Hospice has a positive impact on patients and their families as they receive the guidance, respect, and care that is crucial at the end of life. Access to hospice care means that individuals obtain the best possible care and support to improve their quality of life.
Delaware Hospice believes that all people should understand their options and the support hospice can provide. If you have questions about hospice care, give us a call at 800-838-9800.