Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Be a Part of the End-of-Life Challenge on OpenIDEO

Recently, a global effort kicked off to start radical conversations around the end of life experience. It’s launching on OpenIDEO (an open innovation platform) in partnership with Sutter Health and the Helix Centre and will lead a global community through collaborating with each other to design new ideas for enhancing the personal experience of death and dying.

The question being asked: How might we reimagine the end-of-life experience for ourselves and our loved ones? 

All people who have thought about this important issue are encouraged to participate in this global movement. The Inspiration phase of the challenge is now open for stories and the challenge will be collecting new posts.

This OpenIDEO challenge is an inspiring place to collaborate with people from around the world on this topic, collectively improve new ideas, get feedback from experts and potentially get a fresh idea off the ground. It’s also a place to boost your creative problem solving skills.

Learn more and participate in the End-of-Life Challenge.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Early Palliative Care Provides Important Benefits for Family Caregivers of Patients with Cancer reports ASCO

A press release from the American Society of Clinical Oncology reports on this new study.

“Caregivers provide critical support for patients with cancer, but it can take a heavy toll. This study shows that early palliative care, although designed for and directed at patients, can also help ease the burden on their caregivers,” said ASCO President Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, ASCO President. “This insight contributes to the large and growing body of evidence supporting early palliative care for patients with advanced cancers.”

A randomized clinical trial found that introducing palliative care shortly after a cancer diagnosis results in better quality of life and fewer depression symptoms for family caregivers. According to the authors, the study is the first to show that early palliative care alone for a patient with cancer can have a strong impact on family caregivers. The study was featured in a press briefing May 18, 2016 and will be presented at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“This study suggests that early palliative care creates a powerful positive feedback loop in families facing cancer,” said lead study author Areej El-Jawahri, MD, Director of Bone Marrow Transplant Survivorship Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. “While patients receive a direct benefit from early palliative care, their caregivers experience a positive downstream effect, which may make it easier for them to care for their loved ones.”

Read the full ASCO press release
View the full abstract
The study will be presented at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Gentle Art of Teaching Hospital CEOs

One of the challenges for hospice and palliative leaders has always been that their services were seen as a small part of the healthcare continuum. Over and over, I’ve had hospice CEOs and administrators tell me their greatest frustration was getting the time of day from hospital and health system execs.
Lately, however, I’m not hearing that as much. Instead, I hear clients and friends telling me their local system seems interested in post-acute care in a new way. In January of this year, the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development published results from a survey of hospital and health system executives, CEOs and CFOs, mostly. They were asked, “How likely is it that by 2021, the proportion of your hospital or health system’s expenditures devoted to post-acute care capabilities (palliative care, hospice, or skilled nursing) will increase?” Fully 92% of them said it was Likely. 54% of them even said “Very Likely.”
The reason for this new attention to post-acute care is that new payment incentives are strongly encouraging acute care providers to care about what happens after patients are discharged from the hospital more than ever before. This hasn’t always been the case. Jeff Goldsmith, the well-known healthcare futurist, recently wrote about this issue: “Traditionally, the hospital’s responsibility ended abruptly upon discharge. In candor, the discharge process often was not focused on patient outcomes. In many institutions, the main focus was on clearing the bed and making sure the patient had a safe ride home.”
Now however, inattention to what happens immediately after an acute care episode can cost the hospital, health system or ACO money. If the patient comes back as a re-admission or Emergency Department visitor, that’s bad, not only for the patient, but also for the at-risk provider’s bottom line.
Cost avoidance is the name of the game, and post-acute care is finally getting its due as a key component in improving outcomes and reducing costs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean that the hospital CEOs know clearly what they want or need from hospice. Nor does it mean they always have a good understanding of why hospices can make vital partners in a health system’s efforts to reduce costs of care.
Hospice leaders may find themselves in the position of (gently) helping their local hospitals and health systems to understand the new imperatives of managing costs when revenue is at risk. After all, managing patient costs on a fixed payment is something that the hospice industry has been doing since 1983.
This post is a preview from a longer article on working with ACOs and hospitals that will appear in the Summer edition of NHPCO’s Newsline out June 15. 

Sue Lyn Schramm, MA
Director, Consulting Services, NHPCO

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Virtual Conference Call for Posters Extended

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association will host the 2016 Virtual Conference, Complex Challenges on the Front Lines: Effective Approaches to Complex Cases, from August 9 – 11, 2016.  

The call for poster presentations for the 2016 Virtual Conference has been extended to May 31, 2016. Posters submissions should outline approaches and solutions to clinical challenges that hospice and palliative care professionals face in their work with patients and families.  

Hospice and palliative care practitioners and researchers are encouraged to be a part of the conference’s expert and distinguished faculty by submitting a poster presentation. Presenters are not required to be present. A sample of one of the poster presentations from the 2015 Virtual Conference is available online.

Learn more about the Virtual Conference Call for Posters online, including the conference learning objectives.

Registration for the 2016 Virtual Conference is open.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Engaging New Audiences, Collaborations, Partnerships... in NewsLine

The Spring 2016 edition of NHPCO's NewsLine contains a number of articles that ask the question, "Are you serving all who might need your services?" 

Readers are invited to read the latest issue of NHPCO's digital quarterly NewsLine (Spring 2016), where we take a look at issues involved in reaching communities under-utilizing hospice care, particularly Latinos and African Americans. We also share efforts of the NHPCO Diversity Advisory Council and some useful resources.

Additional articles of interest:

  • Collaboration with Morgan State University
    Learn about a new innovative partnership to help raise awareness among new audiences.
  • Engaging Millennials, Too
    Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice found a unique way to get the community talking.
  • Strategic Opportunities for Hospice
    The first in a 2-part series looking at opportunities providers should be aware of.

Plus: Short Takes, Member News, News From NHF, Global Partners in Care... and more.

Read NewsLine online. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Program for the Love of Pets

Sharon Shinkle’s dogs, miniature Yorkshire Terriers named Shelby and Yogi, meant the world to her; they were a constant presence in her life.  In the beginning of 2016, Sharon began receiving hospice care and her illness left her unable to care for her beloved dogs leaving her feeling extremely distressed.  Her illness took a turn for the worse and she was admitted to the North Pinellas Care Center, part of Suncoast Hospice in Palm Harbor, Florida.  It was there that she expressed her concern for her dogs –temporarily staying with close friends- to her care team.  They were part of Sharon’s family. Luckily the organization has a Pet Peace of Mind program and was able to help Sharon, Shelby and Yogi.

Sharon shared her concern that the dogs hadn’t been groomed in some time.  Alicia Lawler, Senior Volunteer Coordinator and Pet Peace of Mind Program Coordinator assured Sharon  that PPoM would be able to get the dogs groomed.  She also took this opportunity to find out if Sharon had a plan for Shelby and Yogi after she died.

“Part of the Pet Peace of Mind program is to determine what happens next when a patient either can no longer take care of their animals or if they pass away,” says Alicia.

Sharon was very realistic about the time she had left and had arranged for her sister Diana to take the dogs after she died.  She was comforted knowing that Diana, who also has a miniature Yorkie, would be there for the dogs and give them the same love and care that she provided.

Sharon’s family arranged to have Shelby and Yogi visit her at the care center as often as possible. Her final visit with the dogs was filled with joy, laughter, and love.

A new video, "Program for the Love of Pets," is part of the Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice campaign which was created to help people understand the many things that hospice and palliative care can do.

Sharon with one of her beloved miniature Yorkshire Terriers. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Leading a Hospice Volunteer Team

Leading hospice volunteers is not just our job; it is our passion.  For me, it is essential to approach this very important work with passion – both for the reasons for which volunteers are needed, and especially for the gift that volunteers bring.  Thankfully, this is a very easy task, because undoubtedly we find – over and over again – that our lives are enriched by working with an awesome teams of volunteers.  Secondly, I’m encouraged to remember that those who commit to being a hospice volunteer are stating that they are willing to serve, without pay, to improve the quality of life for others.  And it is our privilege and responsibility, as leaders of volunteers, to come alongside these willing individuals with the passion and commitment they deserve.

Think about the gift!  Hospice volunteers have said – either to themselves or to us – that they are willing to walk with others on their end-of-life journey.  They are friendly visitors, holding the hand of a patient in a skilled nursing facility. They are envelope stuffers, assuring that those who are grieving receive valuable resources and support.  They are errand runners, picking up groceries for family members who just don’t have time to get away.  They are support group assistants, sharing their own walk of grief with others in a healthy way which helps them to navigate their own journey.  They are phone connections, assuring families that needed services and supplies are available exactly when and how needed.  They are fundraisers, championing your organization to have funds available to meet benevolent needs of patients and families.  They are vigil keepers, believing that no one should die alone and being there, day or night, simply to be a presence. They are Veterans, committed to honoring those at end of life who have served our country and protected our freedoms. They are teenagers.  They are retired. They are working people with very busy lives. They are all of this and more. They are givers – of time, of passion, of self.

To those of us who are leaders of volunteers – may we enjoy each and every day of our work, and recognize our work as the valued profession that it is.  Let us take time every day to thank a volunteer, to encourage them in their work. There is great joy in the successful leadership of volunteers. There is great joy in paving the way for others to be able to give from their hearts to those who are at end of life.  I am blessed… we are blessed!

By Leanne Porterfield, CVA
Coordinator of Volunteers, Homeland Hospice 

National Volunteer Week is April 10 - 16, 2016.