Thursday, June 30, 2011

NHPCO Draws Providers’ Attention to Article in New York Times

NHPCO members may have seen the article from Kaiser Health News that was posted on the New York Times website yesterday and appears in print in the Health & Science section today, "Concerns about costs rise with hospices' use."

NHPCO wanted to let members know that President/CEO Don Schumacher wrote a letter to the editor reminding the NY Times that growth in hospice over the past decade reflects our caring more compassionately for the dying in this country. He also made the point that NHPCO has been calling for more federal oversight of hospice for many years.

The NY Times blog page, New Old Age, welcomes comments from readers. Please feel free to share any thoughts you might have through the comment section of the New Old Age blog. An insightful comment was posted on the New Old Age blog that NHPCO would like to draw provider's attention to. An individual wrote: "I'm so thankful that this article was published, because we weren't aware that hospice care was available for end stage Alzheimers. We want to do everything we can to honor my mother's wish that she die in her own home, but if things become impossible,,,well it gives me great comfort to know there is another option."

To many of us, so close to issues that involve the field, it can be easy to forget that many members of the public are concerned about issues as they affect them in a personal way. Even challenging news articles can provide valuable information about hospice that is important to the public.

In addition to Don's letter to the editor, we are submitting an op-ed to the NY Times that we hope will get serious consideration.

Additionally, the Public Policy team has put together some specific talking points they are sharing with legislators and their staffs on Capitol Hill who may have concern or confusion resulting from this article.

We wanted to assure members that NHPCO has been actively responding following the release of this article.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why a National Center for Care at the End of Life?

Last April, at NHPCO’s Management and Leadership Conference, we rolled out the public phase of the National Hospice Foundation’s Capital Campaign for the National Center for Care at the End of Life. Some of you may already be aware of this important investment for the future of end-of-life care in this county. In fact, we’ve already raised $2.4 million of our $10 million goal, so things are off to a great start.

You may ask, “Why do we need a national center for end-of-life care?” Well, it has never been more important that we, as the nation’s hospice and palliative care community, have a permanent presence advancing our shared vision for care at the end of life. It is estimated that 70 million Americans will need hospice and palliative care services in the next 20 years, so what we do matters. As our nation grapples with challenges of healthcare delivery and costs, the need for us to strategically advocate for the dying has never been greater.

This Campaign will help ensure that we have a permanent home where skilled professionals can come together to accomplish the transformational work of care and compassion at the bedside.

The Cornerstone for Advancing Care and Compassion

The Washington-metropolitan area is a city of buildings that serve as “go to” destinations representing many organizations and causes. The National Center for Care at the End of Life will be the “go to” place dedicated to advancing and ensuring that high-quality care is available to everyone in need at life’s end.

I was moved by the enthusiasm that MLC attendees showed toward our Campaign. We have already finalized several naming opportunities for individuals and organizations that want to be a part of the National Center. If you or your colleagues need more information on how to be a part of the Campaign, visit the National Hospice Foundation website or contact the NHF team at 703-516-4928.

Providers, volunteers and supporters are all an important part of the hospice and palliative care community, and for that I am thankful.

I hope you’ll consider how you can become involved in supporting the National Center for Care at the End of Life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Position Statement on Ethical Marketing Practices Released by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

(Alexandria, Va) – A position statement and commentary, Hospice and Palliative Care: Ethical Marketing Practices, has been released by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Approved by the NHPCO board of directors, this document reinforces the need for hospice and palliative care providers to utilize ethical marketing practices, which in turn, will ensure trust and support among those being served.

Ethical behavior exemplifies the foundational hospice values of service, respect, excellence, collaboration and stewardship. These values can both inspire and challenge end-of-life professionals as they promote services available in the community.

“Hospice and palliative care providers are caring for individuals and families who may be particularly vulnerable as they cope with serious and life-limiting illness. The highest ethical practices and standards are necessary from every single provider in the industry – with no exceptions,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

“This position statement will help providers to establish accountability for sound ethical practices as they engage in marketing efforts and business development,” he added.

NHPCO’s position statement focuses on six key components:
1. Access to Care
2. Competition
3. Customer Service Excellence and Boundaries
4. Hospice and Palliative Care Organizations as Referral Sources
5. New Trends in Marketing and Communication
6. Traditional Media Marketing

NHPCO strongly believes that sound ethical practices are an essential component of quality.
The statement stresses that responsive admissions systems and personnel that meet patients’ and referral sources’ needs are hallmarks of service excellence. NHPCO further states that marketing practices should be evaluated and monitored frequently to avoid unethical decisions and behaviors.

NHPCO hopes the document serves as a catalyst for dialogue within and among organizations that provide hospice and palliative care—a dialogue that will support and reinforce ethical standards of practice.

Developed by the NHPCO Ethics Committee, Hospice and Palliative Care: Ethical Marketing Practices (PDF) is available on the NHPCO website.

# # #

Jon Radulovic
Vice President, Communications

NHPCO's other position statements are available on the NHPCO website.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Member of NHPCO’s Leadership Team Shares Thoughts on Death(ly) Panels

I spent Memorial Day Weekend with a group of Cub Scouts ranging in age from six to 11. My son, who is eleven, was excited to be “crossing the bridge” from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. The formal ritual, which involved his Den leader saying some nice words about his growth and older Boy Scouts welcoming him to their midst, was an important milestone in my son’s life. He isn’t a little kid any more, he’s a teenager. I have no idea when that happened.

Nor do I know the specific moment when I became the adult caregiver of my mother, who turns 80 this year and has been in good physical and mental shape for years. Yet it hasn’t been easy. The death of her two sisters within six months of one another and two knee replacements surgeries of her own during those difficult months left her exhausted as well as emotionally and physically frail. I flew to Florida to visit her in the facility where she is receiving rehab, arranged for non-medical aides to help her when she moved back home and spent a few days with her so she wouldn’t be alone. This was an important milestone for me as an adult daughter. My responsibility level has increased and there really isn’t any going back.

As adults we experience multiple milestones – planned and unplanned – that mark our progression through life. One day we are happily single and the next we’re in a committed relationship. We’re childless and then become parents in a few short months. We are healthy and the next day we’re told we have a potentially life-limiting illness. It all happens so fast and there’s little we can do to slow down this inevitable march onward, through life’s stages.

We can’t stop it, even though many people try to slow down the aging process through surgery, exercise, nutrition or just plain denial. We can save money for our kids’ education. We can put money away for retirement. But eventually we’re all going to face the fact that we’re all mortal. Even as aware as we all are that we will die some day, we do little to plan for it.

When there is a healthcare crisis, which happens to so many people, we are unprepared, as are our families. We haven’t thought about the type of care we want or don’t want. We haven’t selected someone to speak for us if we can’t talk to the doctors ourselves. We haven’t told anyone whether we would or would not want to be kept alive through medical interventions if the chance of recovery was slim. We haven’t planned properly to make sure we are in control during what might be the last phase of our life.

My son is now memorizing all the Boy Scout pledges, laws and mottos in preparation for his first meeting. To me the most important one, besides “do a good turn every day,” is the one that is best known and yet universally most ignored – “be prepared.”

You can’t avoid the last milestone in life. Hopefully you won’t face it for many years to come. But it will happen, in some shape or form, to all of us. Take a lesson from my son, be prepared. Download a free advance directive, read it through and talk about with your doctor and family members, sign it and give copies to folks who will need it during a crisis. Take control of the phase of your life before that milestone creeps up on you and catches you unprepared.

GUEST BLOGGER: Kathy Brandt, MS, the Senior Vice President, Office of Education and Engagement at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, is a passionate believer in the need to plan for, talk about, and document end-of-life care wishes, and the proud mother of an amazing eleven year Boy Scout.