Caring for LGBTQ Patients Near the End of Life
Equality in High-Quality Hospice Care
Patients who identify as LGBTQ can find compassionate care at VITAS® Healthcare, secure in the knowledge that we understand their concerns, preferences and unique needs because of our decades-long experience and affiliation with the LGBTQ community.
VITAS staff members provide personally affirming care for patients with a wide range of life-limiting illnesses, including but not limited to cancer, heart disease, AIDS, stroke, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. VITAS staff also provide support for the patient’s partner, loved ones and caregivers.
An LGBTQ Trend-Setter for Patients and Physicians
Why do we advocate for an inclusive approach to hospice care for LGBTQ patients? First, VITAS is part of the LGBTQ community. We embrace and support our staff members, their family members and friends who identify as LGBTQ.
Second, we have been a leader in the American hospice movement since 1978, helping define standards of care. Beginning with the 1980s AIDS crisis and continuing through decades of LGBTQ equal rights initiatives, legislative victories and legal rulings, VITAS has been guided by our conviction that everyone deserves a safe haven when seeking medical care.
We place a premium on high-quality hospice services, confidentiality and respect for all LGBTQ patients across multiple settings, whether they receive loving care at home, feel abandoned by their families, or feel forced back into the closet as residents of nursing care or senior care communities.
We ensure that terminally ill patients and their loved ones live in comfort and dignity near the end of life, no matter their race, nationality, religion, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
VITAS is a Safe Haven
Our solutions for LGBTQ patients and referring physicians include:
- A full spectrum of hospice services to patients wherever they call home—a private residence, assisted living community, nursing facility, hospital or inpatient unit. Our protocols control pain, manage symptoms, reduce anxiety, and provide emotional and spiritual support, all of which help patients live with comfort and dignity in their last months, weeks or days. Our Telecare service connects patients and caregivers 24/7 with a patient care specialist who has access to patient records and can advise, support or dispatch a member of the team to the bedside when needed—after hours, weekends and holidays. When medically necessary, Intensive Comfort Care® provides temporary shifts of acute symptom management in the patient’s home for up to 24 hours a day.
- A VITAS interdisciplinary team that addresses the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of every individual we serve. A hospice doctor, nurse, aide, social worker, chaplain, bereavement manager and volunteer oversee all aspects of care, from symptom and pain management to spiritual and emotional support, personal care, access to community resources, memorial planning and more.
- Advance planning and living will expertise. End-of-life care can be particularly challenging for LGBTQ patients, depending on healthcare laws, policies and attitudes. VITAS social workers can help navigate barriers and obstacles to making healthcare decisions, while our community liaisons facilitate meetings, educate community groups, support and attend events, and forge partnerships to improve services to the LGBTQ community.
Who Pays for Hospice Services?
Medicare, Medicaid (MediCal in California) and private plans cover the hospice benefit 100%. There are no out-of-pocket expenses to patients or loved ones for VITAS care. VITAS covers all prescription drugs, medical equipment and supplies related to the terminal diagnosis.