Advance Care Planning
September 12, 2017

VITAS and the Assisted Living Facility: A Partnership of Care

Three women and a man laughing together

Your assisted living facility (ALF) is home to your residents, a place where they have formed relationships with peers and staff, where they know the traditions and day-to-day schedules, where the faces and spaces are familiar. This is where they want to be.

As the nation’s largest hospice provider, VITAS® Healthcare has the expertise, the staff and the specialized services to keep your residents at home—out of emergency rooms, hospitals and nursing homes—as they approach the end of life. Hospice care is most beneficial when it is provided for months, rather than weeks or days. In addition to managing pain and symptoms, hospice may allow a resident to enjoy a meaningfully longer and better quality of life. The added time can be a boon to families, offering an opportunity to address spiritual, financial, practical and relational matters.

How does VITAS’ clinical expertise keep residents at home?

  • Levels of care. VITAS offers unsurpassed service across all four levels of hospice care: 
    • Routine Home Care—available wherever the patient calls home
    • Intensive Comfort Care® (continuous care)— medical management in the home for up to 24 hours per day when medically necessary can make the difference between a resident remaining in the community and being sent to the emergency department for treatment
    • Inpatient Care—when medical needs cannot be managed at home
    • Respite Care—allows for a brief inpatient admission to provide caregivers a “respite”; designed for patients being cared for by a family member; not applicable to assisted living residents
  • VITAS Telecare® 24/7 support. Our Telecare service provides immediate telephone access to a clinical expert in our Care Connection Center® who can assess your resident’s situation and provide medical advice. Nearly 200,000 after-hours calls are handled by VITAS clinicians each month.¹
  • Consistent and ongoing clinical care. An average of five-plus visits per week¹ by a member of the VITAS team (which includes a hospice physician, nurse, social worker, hospice aide, chaplain and team volunteer) provide extra support for residents and their families. This high volume of visits is often instrumental in averting medical crises.

Effective Pain Management

  • At VITAS, managing patients’ pain is the utmost objective. As a palliative care pioneer, our organization has developed effective pain management protocols that are customized for the individual resident—which is critical in an assisted living setting. In addition to addressing physical and medical issues, our interdisciplinary approach addresses spiritual and emotional needs as well.

Supporting Your Residents and Staff

  • Comprehensive clinical education. VITAS offers nearly 70 educational programs customized for assisted living community staff. Our CE presentations are open to all; for nurses and social workers they are approved for CE credits in accordance with state requirements. VITAS provides these credits at no cost. 
  • ALF consultant. VITAS ALF consultants are available to visit facilities, answer questions about hospice, talk about death and dying and explain how VITAS cares for residents near the end of life.
  • Specialized care programs and benefits:
    • Veteran program
    • Alzheimer’s/dementia programs
    • COPD program
    • Multilingual staff
    • Jewish accreditation
    • Pet therapy
    • Music therapy
    • Massage therapy
    • “Living memorials” to honor a resident’s life
    • Anticipatory grief support during the illness
    • Bereavement support groups for families
    • Memory Bears

Ongoing Communication

The best partnership of care at the end of life is the result of ongoing communication between an informed resident, their family, their hospice team and the assisted living staff. Residents who understand the course of their illness and what to expect, and who have documented personal preferences in a living will or advance directive, are the ones most likely to receive hospice care according to their personal beliefs.² Finally, good communication improves patient/family satisfaction ratings.

Selecting a Strategic Partner

Choosing the right hospice partner is critical.

Look for:

  • Rapid response time; same-day admission seven days per week
  • Direct access to clinicians 24 hours per day, seven days per week
  • High-tech capabilities: rapid intake via iPad, interoperability with hospitals’ EMR, real-time exchange of patient information, VITAS app with eligibility guidelines
  • Ability to accept high-acuity patients
  • HIPAA-compliant case reviews with your team
  • Meetings with residents and their families for an information-only discussion of end-of-life care options
  • Extra support at the time of death, as well as formal bereavement and support groups
  • Specialized service options for assisted living communities, such as staff training, education and development of customized protocols

VITAS® Healthcare supports your residents’ desire to remain in their home even as their health declines. The most important step you and your staff can take is to proactively identify those at risk for a medical crisis. 

¹Data on file at VITAS.

² Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, online June 19, 2015


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