Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill

Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill Written by the American Bar Association

Guide Commissioned by NHPCO and Created by American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging

(Alexandria, Va) -- The onset of a serious illness or injury can affect much more than a person’s health. Knowing what steps to take to get one’s financial and legal affairs in order is often vitally important not only to the affected individual, but to his or her loved ones as well.

The "Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill" -- a project by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging commissioned by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization -- was designed for both the seriously ill individual and those caring for someone who is seriously ill. The guide explains “Seven Key Steps” in a brief, clear way while offering additional tips and resources for readers looking for more detailed information and guidance.

The recently released guide addresses societal issues that have gained prominent media attention in recent years, such as paying for health care, managing health and personal decisions, and patient rights. In addition, the Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill sheds light on recent legislative and regulatory changes, such as the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provides a 35 percent subsidy of the COBRA premium for up to nine months.

“The Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill is a great resource for anyone facing a serious illness. The book provides critical tools that help readers understand their options, make informed decisions, and minimize some of the anxiety they may be feeling about their financial and legal affairs at this stage of life,” said ABA President Carolyn Lamm.

J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of NHPCO added, “Hospice and palliative care organizations are frequently asked for information regarding end-of-life planning and decision-making. This guide will be a tremendous resource to them as well as faith communities, caregiver organizations, aging service providers, hospitals and others who work to support people living with a serious illness.

Ellen M. Klem, staff attorney of the ABA Commission on Law and the Aging, reminded readers that the book does not give legal advice, but will “arm readers with knowledge about the options they have during this difficult time.”

The views expressed in the book have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the ABA.

"Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill" is available online at the Caring Connections Web site.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

NHPCO is the oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. NHPCO’s mission is to lead and mobilize social change for improved care at the end of life. NHPCO's Caring Connections provides free resources and information to help people make decisions about end-of-life care and services before a crisis. Learn more at caringinfo.org or by calling the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.

Media Contact:
Tina Lanier, ABA


Jon Radulovic, NHPCO
Phone: 703-837-3139

For more information visit, http://www.nhpco.org

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NHPCO Releases Updated Resource Manual

NHPCO Releases New Hospice Volunteer Resource Manual to Support Volunteer Programs and the Nation's 550,000 Hospice Volunteers

(Alexandria, Va) – The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that more than 550,000 individuals across the nation are giving of their time and talents as trained hospice volunteers. These volunteers contribute more than 25 million hours of service annually and reach 1.5 million patients and their family caregivers every year.

These figures, part of the NHPCO report Facts & Figures: Hospice Care in America were shared at NHPCO’s recent 6th National Conference on Volunteerism and Family Caregiving held last weekend in Orlando, Fla.

As part of the conference events, NHPCO released the newly revised edition of The Hospice Volunteer Program Resource Manual.

Hospice organizations have a responsibility to ensure that volunteers are well trained and well cared for and this manual will contribute to those efforts.

“Hospice volunteers are individuals who have stepped forward to make a difference in the lives of other people in their communities and they are vital members of the hospice and palliative care interdisciplinary team,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

“The help, kindness and support that patients and families receive from hospice volunteers often profoundly changes their experience at the end of life.”

The manual has been updated to reflect the 2008 hospice Conditions of Participation—the federal requirements that all hospices must meet—and includes fresh ideas on recruitment, retention, training, volunteer manager skills development, program development, and more.

The publication includes a CD-ROM that assists managers in personalizing a volunteer program that meets the specific needs of an organization. Materials that can be adapted include competency checklists, surveys, policies and procedures, visit logs, job descriptions, training outlines, and more.

To ensure that volunteers remain an integral part of hospice care, it is federally mandated that at least five percent of patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers. Providers must track and document this carefully.

When a hospice invests in establishing a fully-functioning volunteer support program, the five percent rule becomes a guidepost, instead of burden.

“I know it costs money to run a well-coordinated volunteer program, however, on every level the benefits exceed the costs. Volunteers and their gift of service can have a huge impact on both the quality of the care your organization provides and its bottom line. A well-trained, engaged volunteer who spends time with patients and families can pick up on changes or challenges before they become crises,” noted Schumacher.

The Hospice Volunteer Program Resource Manual (item #820114) is available from the NHPCO Marketplace and may be ordered online, nhpco.org/marketplace, by phone at 1-800-646-6460, or by downloading and returning theVolunteer Manual order form.

For more information visit, http://www.nhpco.org

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wishing You a Peaceful Holiday Season

As the year comes to a close, I would like to thank each one of you, our members, who have offered so much support to NHPCO throughout this very busy year. There have been issues, large and small, that we have had to confront together and I think we’ve risen to the challenge time and time again.

I am so proud of the spirit of collaboration that is so palpable within our community. For this willingness to work together and support one another, I am indeed grateful.

During this holiday season, I encourage you to cherish time spent with your families and loved ones. On a personal note, this holiday season will be particularly poignant for me as I prepare to welcome my first grandchild.

We care for people on a daily basis, most often during one of life’s most challenging journeys. I hope that every one of you find the same peace and kindness that you so generously provide to the people you serve. Enjoy the special gifts found in quiet moments of reflection and in unexpected acts of kindness.

On behalf of the NHPCO board of directors, our staff and our affiliate organizations, I wish you a peaceful holiday season and a happy New Year!



For more information visit, http://www.nhpco.org