What’s Important to Patients and Families at the End of Life?

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the number of patients receiving hospice care has been increasing over the past 12 years.  However, it appears that hospice is often a last resort, with as many as 28% of hospice admissions lasting three days or less.

A possible explanation for this high percentage is that patients and their families simply aren’t having discussions with their care providers about their prognoses and what is important to them in the end of life.  Since physicians are not reimbursed by Medicare to have these conversations with their patients, it becomes the patient’s responsibility to be an advocate for the care and treatment he or she wants to receive.

The best way for patients to be their own advocates is to be educated and informed of the options available to them.  And who better to inform them than you?

Here are some ideas of ways you can spread the word about the value of hospice care to prospective patients and their families:

  • Sponsor a Relay for Life team and hand out informational brochures at your tent.
  • Provide free educational classes or seminars for families and caregivers about end of life options. These can be held at community-based or care-oriented facilities.
  • Create brochures about end of life care and ask local physicians, nursing homes and hospitals to distribute.

With the aging population growing rapidly, now is the time to be initiating the discussion about end of life care and providing your community with information and resources needed to help patients and family members advocate for their own health care.