Quality Hospice Care Takes Time
Hospice care provides priceless benefits at the end of life, but most families choose hospice when their loved one has just days or hours to live.
Despite the avalanche of research, studies and surveys confirming the tremendous physical, emotional, spiritual and financial benefits of hospice care, America’s hospice programs are increasingly providing services for shorter periods of time.
Hospice During the Last Six Months of Life
By definition, hospice is intended to help people during the last six months of their lives. Experts agree that hospice care is most beneficial when patients receive it for months rather than weeks or days. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management shows that hospice patients live an average of 29 days longer than those who do not choose hospice.
Patients Aren't Receiving the Full Benefit of Hospice Care
Unfortunately, half of all hospice patients nationwide get only three weeks of care before they die. One-third receive care for fewer than seven days. This crisis-management approach is diametrically opposed to the hospice ideals: building trusting relationships, controlling symptoms such as pain, helping loved ones get emotional closure, facilitating peaceful dying experiences for patients, and providing grief support for loved ones.
Get the Most Out of Hospice Care
While hospice can work miracles when someone is referred in crisis, it can do so much more for patients and families if it’s given more time to provide care. The more time the hospice team has to support the patient and family, the better the quality of life for the patient and the better the memories for loved ones following the death.
With time to get physical pain under control, there also is time to evaluate psychological and emotional pain.
Patients often learn to embrace this important stage of life, making connections, repairing relationships, rediscovering simple pleasures and making their peace with death. Hospice helps patients live each day.