Monday, April 24, 2017

Celebrating Volunteers during National Volunteer Week!

National Volunteer Week is April 23 – 29, 2017 and those dedicated individuals offering support, companionship and hope to those facing a life-limiting illness deserve special recognition for the difference they make in America. NHPCO salutes the estimated 430,000 trained hospice volunteers providing more than 19 million hours of service to hospice programs each year.

“Hospice began as a volunteer-driven movement in this country more than 40 years ago and volunteers continue to play an indispensable role in enabling hospice and palliative care organizations to offer the best care possible for patients and their families and caregivers,” said Edo Banach, NHPCO president and CEO.

Mercedes Ibarra believes sincerely in the hospice mission of providing quality, compassionate end-of-life care to those who are dealing with a terminal diagnosis.  She became a volunteer at Silverado Hospice Los Angeles in 2013 and says that her experience working with hospice patients has been “life-changing”.

Before becoming a hospice volunteer, I never knew that I could love someone I didn’t know that whole heartedly,” shares Mercedes. “And I like knowing that families feel that there is someone there to support them and their loved one.”

Mercedes has shared her story as part of a national campaign, Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice, which shows that hospice is not about giving up, but rather making more meaningful moments possible.   In “The Gift of Volunteering,”  viewers are given a glimpse into the life of a hospice volunteer as the camera follows Mercedes on two separate patient visits.  Mercedes and her patients dance, smile, laugh, cry and live in the moment.   

Hospice volunteers often serve patients and families at the bedside but they also assist in the office, help raise awareness, contribute to educational programs, and provide fundraising support and more. To learn more about hospice or to contact a local hospice, visit the Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice website.

Gift of Volunteering video

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Announcing Virtual Conference 2017 Opening Plenary Speaker Joan Harrold, MD

NHPCO is proud to announce that Joan Harrold, MD, MPH, FACP, FAAHPM will be the opening plenary speaker for this summer's Virtual Conference, Aligning Practice with Evidence, coming to your organization or conference center via the Internet on July 26 - 27, 2017.

How well are the medical and clinical practices of our field aligned with scientific evidence? Do you incorporate the latest research into your practice? Why? And if not, why not?

Sometimes our “usual” approaches to patient care and symptom management become our standard because “it’s how we do things.” The urgencies of meeting patient/family needs can make it difficult to read clinical journals and attend conferences. Even when we do try to keep up with advances in the field, we may lack confidence in our abilities to analyze what we read and hear—and discern which evidence warrants change in practice and which does not.

Dr. Harrold's presentation, "Building a Foundation: Aligning Practice with Evidence," will kick of the two day event that is hosted by NHPCO, AAHPM and HPNA.

Dr. Harrold is the Medical Director and CMO/Vice President of Medical Services of Hospice and Community Care in Lancaster and York, PA.  She has more than two decades of experience in hospice and palliative care.  Prior to becoming certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, she received her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia; completed an internal medicine residency at Bowman Grey; and completed a Master of Public Health degree with special emphasis in epidemiology and biostatistics at The George Washington University.

Dr. Harrold serves on the Board of Directors of NHPCO and previously served as a director on the boards of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine , the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and the Pennsylvania Hospice Network.  Dr. Harrold is the chair of the Professional Education Committee and serves on its various subcommittees. 

Joan Harrold, MD, MPH, FACP, FAAHPM
The 2017 Virtual Conference is one of the best, most convenient ways to bring high quality education to your team without having to leave the office. Brought to you by three leading organizations in the field.  

Act now and register today to lock in the early bird rate! 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Rallying to Encourage and Empower Us All to Make Our Healthcare Decisions Now Because... It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late

In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), April 16, we share this blog as part of national efforts to raise awareness of this issue.  

College education.  Career path.  Relationships.  Starting a family.  Buying or selling a house. Vacations. Retirement. From the age that we’re old enough to understand, most of us are taught and accept that these are the markers in life that we plan for.  However, there’s one key marker that’s all-too-often missing from this list: advance care planning.  Like planning for these other life events, planning for the time (or times) that we are unable to express our healthcare wishes is of the utmost importance. It is something that should be well thought-out, documented and revisited at different points in life to reflect any change in our desires or family situation or the person we wish to advocate for us. 

Unfortunately, it is a planning point that that majority of us have missed.  In fact, only about 25% of adults have an advance care plan.  As a consequence patients’ families suffer the added burden of having to guess when a health crisis happens. That’s why National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) was founded 10 years ago and why this nationwide advance care planning awareness initiative is as important as ever. So this year, I’ve joined my fellow bloggers throughout the country to spread the word about the importance of advance care planning with this special NHDD edition blog.

NHDD, which happens every April 16—and is a week-long event this year—is a collaborative effort of thousands of national, state, and community organizations as well as dedicated individual advocates committed to ensuring that adult Americans–like you and me—have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions.

If you haven’t had the talk already, check out the awesome three and a half minute “Imagine” video on the NHDD homepage: It’s proof that it takes only a few minutes to start a conversation with your loved ones about advance care planning—a conversation that affects people for a lifetime.  

After the goosebumps settle down from watching the video, here are some specific things you can do for NHDD:
  • Lead by example.  Schedule time with your loved ones (on or before the week of April 16) to “Have the Talk” and complete your own advance directive. There are many tools, including free forms, you can use to walk you through the process and make your wishes known; access them through the NHDD Public Resources page or visit the NHPCO website for information. 
  • Encourage your loved ones and friends to learn more about advance directives and to complete their advance directives. You can forward this link:
  • TAKE THE DARE!  I DARE YOU to have the talk about advance care planning and dare others as well!  When you do, share it on whatever outlet you prefer and use #healthtalkdare (and #NHDD) wherever possible.  If you don’t accept my dare, you should make a donation to NHDD  And, while my dare is about inspiring action, you get bonus points if you accept the dare AND make a donation!  (Note: you don’t have to share the specific contents of your talk—that’s your business—just share the fact that you did it.) 
  • Share your advance directive with your healthcare providers and make sure it is on file in the event it is needed. 
Already had the conversation with your loved ones, but want to do more?  Here a few suggestions to rally support for NHDD and encourage even more action:
  • Like the NHDD Facebook fan page and share it with your Facebook friends.
  •  On Twitter? Follow @NHDD and share the information with your followers, i.e. ‘Just 5 days to #NHDD, when will you #havethetalk? @NHDD can help’ OR Share the Dare!  #healthtalkdare. 
  • Send an email to your friends, staff, colleagues, lodge/social club members, and/or house of worship, telling them that you are participating in NHDD and encouraging them to do the same.  
Please use and share the resources available through the NHDD website and encourage and empower us all to make our healthcare decisions now because … It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late! 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Upcoming Webinar on Trauma-Informed End-of-Life Care

NHPCO is offering a Webinar on Thursday, May 11, 2017 from 2:00pm - 3:00pm ET that will explore the ways that past experiences with psychological trauma impact the end of life and how hospice and palliative care professional can help.

Over the course of a lifetime, most Americans will experience at least one psychologically traumatic event. Though most will not develop PTSD, a significant percentage will. Others may be impacted in less obvious ways which can affect one’s sense of self, safety or ability to trust. The diagnosis of a terminal illness can quickly activate or intensify underlying traumatic wounds, heighten defenses or layer new traumas associated with things like medical care or loss of control on top of those which already exist. Identifying those patients whose care and quality of life are being compromised by such concerns is essential. 

Led by Scott Janssen, MA, MSW, LCSW, of Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Alamance-Caswell, this Webinar will explore the origins of PTSD and subclinical PTSD, its potential impact on trauma survivors, the ways illness can complicate effective coping, relational harmony and care at end of life, and how hospice and palliative care professionals can help.  

CE/CME credit is available.

To see the learning objectives and to register for "Trauma-Informed End-of-Life Care," visit the NHPCO website.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Venturing Beyond the Reef

At first blush, the new Disney movie, Moana, has nothing to do with hospice. Yet as I was watching the movie a second time with my 6 year old daughter and 8 year old son, while simultaneously thinking about my new job (multi-tasking is a part of life for a CEO/Dad), the clear parallels came into view. In Moana, a once ocean-going Polynesian island-nation has settled into a life full of abundant sunshine, unlimited coconuts, and plenty of fish. Once a nation of brave sea-farers, the community had come to fear the ocean and the risks it holds, preferring instead the safety and security of their island. Moana, the chief’s daughter and heir apparent, feels compelled to venture into the sea, beyond the reef that separates the island nation from the rest of the world.  One day, the fish are gone and the coconuts dry up. Against her father’s wishes, Moana ventures out to save her nation.

What does any of this have to do with hospice? Well, as I see it we are a community that once looked out, conquering and creating new models. On the 50th Anniversary of Dame Cicely Saunders’ founding of St. Christopher’s Hospice, and in in the 35th year of the Medicare Hospice Benefit, we must recognize how far we’ve come and how courageous and brave we’ve been. I applaud all who helped hospice thrive and grow to where it is today. But like Moana’s island, we’ve grown accustomed to what the hospice island has given us, comfortable with the model and perhaps reluctant to venture beyond the hospice reef. I think that we all know that the healthcare world is changing, as it always has, and that we need to innovate and adapt.

I want to emphasize that innovation here is not about reinventing the wheel, forgetting the past and creating new and better ideas. There’s some of that for sure, but it turns out that we have the people and the tools to do amazing things. We’ve done it before, when we had far fewer people and far fewer tools. Think of what we can do if we bring it all together.

After a few failed attempts with a little boat, Moana is given permission to use the mothballed boats of her ancestors. These boats help her get beyond the reef. Like Moana, we need to venture outside of our island, beyond the reef. Like Moana, we might get tossed into the ocean or hit by a big wave from time to time. But if we use the tools that got us to where we are – a spirit and determination that there is a better way to care for seriously and terminally ill patients – we will be able to expand our reach to provide care, earlier and BE a fully integrated model. We need to give ourselves permission to be a little uncomfortable, to venture beyond our reef and move toward a brighter and sustained future.

If we do this right, we will ensure that hospice won’t be an island, but will instead be a much larger and more integrated part of the world. In fact, our future rests upon this notion. Most importantly, the health care needs of our patients depend on it.

By Edo Banach, JD
President and CEO