NHPCO Stresses Importance of Hospice Access for All Americans during November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month
Amidst the outreach hospices are doing in communities across the country this November for National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is emphasizing the importance of quality end-of-life care for all Americans, regardless of age, diagnoses or location of care.
NHPCO consumer research has found that eight out of 10 Americans would want to be cared for in their homes if facing a life-limiting illness. Hospice makes this happen; almost 70 percent of patients receive care in their place of residence. Whether it’s the family home, nursing home, residential facility, or hospice inpatient setting, hospice teams strive to reach all appropriate patients and families wherever compassionate end-of-life care is needed.
For example, one out of four Americans will die in a nursing home. A growing number of nursing home residents and their families are opting for hospice services. These patients often present complex issues, including neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, where prognoses are less certain. Multiple studies have shown that hospice significantly improves the quality of care these patients receive in nursing homes,
NHPCO continues to strongly advocate for availability of hospice care services in all settings including the nursing home. “Coping with a life-limiting illness is not easy. It’s about the most challenging thing a person will ever do,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “Think about a seriously ill person doing their best to communicate with doctors and hospitals, navigating the maze of care needs, figuring out insurance coverage, all in addition to helping his or her loved ones face the challenges of caregiving… it’s overwhelming.”
“We want to make sure that people know that help is available and that’s why National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is still so important after more than 35 years of observance. It is a time when efforts to educate and inform consumers and other health care practitioners are even more focused,” he added.
Hospice and palliative care providers take the time to talk with patients and family caregivers, listen to their concerns, and work to ensure they get the care they want.Hospice care provides expert pain management, symptom control, psycho-social support and spiritual care to patients and families when a cure is not possible. All the necessary medicines and equipment needed to keep a patient comfortable are provided. And hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid in most states, and by most insurance plans and HMOs.
Palliative care brings these same skilled services earlier in the course of an illness and can be provided along with other treatments a patient may want to pursue. Many hospitals may have a palliative care program, yet many people don’t realize that hospices are the largest and most extensive network of providers offering palliative care services in the US.
More than 1.5 million people with a life-limiting illness get help from the nation’s hospice and palliative care providers every single year.
“It’s about quality of life. With the help of hospice and palliative care, patients and families can focus on what’s most important, living as fully as possible in spite of illness,” Schumacher said.
NHPCO’s Caring Connections offers free information and resources at www.caringinfo.org or via the HelpLine at 800-658-8898.
Outreach Materials with the 2011 theme, We Listen, We Care! are available on NHPCO's Caring Connections website.