(Alexandria, Va) – An intimate journey into the edge of life is how this evening’s episode of the PBS series Frontline has been described. Frontline’s "Facing Death" will air this evening (11/23/10) at 9:00pm on most PBS stations.
In this groundbreaking film, doctors, patients and families at one of New York’s biggest hospitals speak with remarkable candor about the increasingly difficult choices people are making at the end of life: when to remove a breathing tube in the ICU; when to continue treatment for patients with aggressive blood cancers; when to perform a surgery; and when to call for hospice.
This follows the release of a report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project looking at care for patients with advanced cancer at the end of life that identified gaps between patient wishes and care received.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization urges members of the public to learn about advance care planning and discuss wishes with family members.
“It’s an all too common situation. A family is at the bedside of a loved one who is seriously ill and nearing the end of life,” remarked J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “Each member of the family has a different idea of what should be done and what the patient would have wanted.”
Far too many people wait until they are in the midst of a health care crisis before thinking about what options are available or what care they or their loved ones would have wanted. Hospice professionals deal with these challenging situations every day – that’s what they are trained to do.
When a family is coping with a serious illness and a cure is no longer possible, hospice provides the type of care most people say they want at the end of life: comfort and dignity. Considered to be the model for high-quality, compassionate care for people with a life-limiting illness, hospice care includes expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support. Care is provided by an inter-disciplinary team of professionals and trained volunteers. The wishes of the patient and family are always at the center of care.
Most hospice care is provided in the home – where the majority of Americans have said they would want to be at this time. Care is also provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice centers.
Care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans and HMOs.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that more than 1.56 million people received care from our nation’s hospices last year.
Hospice providers can help with information about care options and choices and ensure you live as fully as possible throughout your entire life. They will make sure your loved ones receive support as well.
One of the best ways to make sure you and your loved ones benefit fully from hospice, should you ever need this care, is to talk about it before it becomes an issue.
For more information on advance care planning and hospice, visit NHPCO’s Caring Connections at caringinfo.org or call the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.
Caring Connections is one of the recommended resources included with the education tools PBS has made available online for “Facing Death.”
NHPCO, Vice President of Communications