The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is committed to championing access to the right care at the right time for all people. Yet, the utilization of hospice and palliative care among African Americans remains disproportionately low. Of all patients utilizing hospice care in 2014, an estimated 7.6 percent were identified as black or African American, which reflects a slight drop from the previous year.
NHPCO’s strategic plan includes expanding hospice and palliative care access to African American communities where a disparity of care exists. A new collaboration between NHPCO and Morgan State University will help to move this important initiative forward.
Founded in 1867, Morgan is among the nation’s oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a Doctoral Research University offering more than 70 academic programs leading to bachelor’s degrees as well as programs at the masters and doctoral levels.
“We will start this important work with Morgan State University, but the overall plan is to equip local hospices around the country with a model for working with HBCUs in their areas to address this disparity of care,” says President and CEO J. Donald Schumacher. “The new partnership with Morgan State University will allow us to reach African American families in new and different ways.”
Initially, NHPCO and MSU will collaborate on offering non-credit courses focused on educating caregivers to make informed decisions about end-of-life care. NHPCO will work with Morgan’s Center for Continuing and Professional Studies which provides professional development courses and career training programs to diverse populations throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area, the state of Maryland, and neighboring communities.
Four two -hour courses will be offered twice during the calendar year beginning in 2016 and will include facilitated discussions led by hospice and palliative care experts. Course topics include: What is Hospice and Palliative Care; How to Plan and Communicate your Future Health Care Wishes; Grieving a Loss; and Spirituality and Hope at the End of Life.
According to Dr. Willie Bragg, Director of the Center for Continuing and Professional Studies at Morgan, “This collaboration is an innovative strategy that connects NHPCO to Morgan State University’s vast network of community resources and provides a platform to share valuable information with caregivers. Further, the partnership offers opportunities to support families in our urban communities as well as empowering caregivers who choose to care for their loved ones.”
Additionally, AARP’s Multicultural Leadership will contribute to this new partnership by sharing its expertise to help maximize opportunities to reach African American caregivers.
The most recent IOM report, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near End of Life, specifically notes that efforts are needed to “normalize conversations about death and dying“ and echoes the “need for emerging leadership in local communities as well as national coalitions and collaborations to help tackle.”
To help facilitate these conversations, NHPCO’s CaringInfo has free, state-specific advance directive forms and information on advance care planning that can be downloaded from its website. Each state’s advance directive is legally reviewed on an annual basis and meets each state’s statutory requirements.