This month, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is working with hundreds of hospice programs across the country to raise awareness about hospice and palliative care. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and this year’s theme is “It’s about how you live!”
Hospice is not a place, but rather a model of high-quality care that enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness. Palliative care brings this holistic model of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness. Hospice organizations are among the largest providers of community-based palliative care services in the nation.
“Every year, nearly 1.5 million people living with a life-limiting illness receive care from hospices in this country,” said Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “These highly-trained professionals ensure that patients and families find dignity, respect, and love during one of life’s most difficult journeys – it’s really about living.”
Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible.
As part of national outreach efforts, NHPCO is sponsoring a hospice and palliative care Social Media Push on Friday, November 3. This annual event was created to share positive and informational messages about end-of-life care via social media. All supporters and advocates are encouraged to participate using the hashtag #hospiceawareness.
NHPCO offers a snapshot of hospice care in its recently released report Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America. Representative statistics reflecting care in 2015 include:
• 4,199 hospices were paid by CMS to provide care under the Medicare hospice benefit.
• 46 percent of Medicare decedents received one day or more of hospice care and were enrolled in hospice at the time of death.
• Median length of service was 23 days.
• 74.9 percent of patients received care for 90 days or less, while those receiving care for more than 180 days accounted for 13.1 percent.
• Cancer was the most common principle diagnosis, accounting for 27.7 percent of patients.
• 97.8 percent of care was provided at the Routine Home Care level with 55.8 percent of RHC days taking place in the home.
“One of the most common regrets we hear from hospice patients and their families is that they delayed the decision to take advantage of hospice care,” noted Banach.
Nearly 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries receive hospice care for seven days or less, a period considered too short to take full advantage of the many services that the hospice interdisciplinary team offers.
Banach added, “Palliative care services provided as part of a continuum of care may help with a timelier transition to hospice, ensuring that people are getting the best care possible at the most appropriate time.”
Read NHPCO’s Hospice and Palliative Care Month Proclamation.
To learn more about hospice, palliative care, advance care planning, or to find a hospice provider in your community, visit NHPCO’s CaringInfo.org.
NHPCO offers resources to help promote National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.