Hospice Care: Sooner Rather Than Later

| By Jodi Horton

One of our great struggles in hospice care is wishing our patients came to us earlier in the progression of their illness.

Half of hospice patients received care for less than three weeks, according to the 2013 Facts & Figures Report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

When a statistic like that comes across our desks, we always are a little sad and disappointed for these families. When a patient, and by extension, their family, are not on hospice services for very long, we think about what we weren’t able to provide due to the shortened period of time.

Hospice care gives medical, emotional, and spiritual support to terminally ill individuals, offering them the opportunity to live the last months of their life comfortably and with dignity.

A patient who spends more time on hospice service is able to live more days comfortably at home with less visits to the ER or less invasive medical treatments. They are cared for on a regular basis by a nurse, who will help to manage any symptoms that cause discomfort or pain. The nurses work closely with the hospice physicians to determine an appropriate care plan.

“Based on the study data, if 1,000 additional beneficiaries enrolled in hospice 15 to 30 days prior to death, Medicare could save more than $6.4 million annually, while those beneficiaries would be spared 4,100 hospital days,” according to a Mount Sinai study.

A patient who spends more time on hospice service experiences the support of a social worker who can guide them through the process of making final arrangements or help families navigate the unfamiliar waters of the end-of-life process. A patient who spends more time on hospice service is able to enjoy additional care from a home health aide, a chaplain, and a volunteer.

For more information about hospice care in the Pima County area, contact Casa de la Luz Hospice at (520) 544-9890.

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