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How to Take Full Advantage of the Hospice Benefit

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January is consistently the month when the most deaths in the U.S. occur. Therefore, if patients that are appropriate for hospice in November and December are not referred until January, they and their families are receiving hospice care for a period considered too short to take full advantage of the many services offered by the hospice team.

Let Heart ‘n Home bring hospice home for the holidays, wherever “home” may be for a patient. Home could be their house, a loved one’s home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. Heart ‘n Home is an extension of your support. Our Nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and our Hospice CNAs can assist family and professional caregivers with bathing, dressing, and the many other personal cares involved in caring for a seriously-ill individual. This can help reduce stress during a very busy time. Let us not forget Volunteers! They are also available to help relieve caregivers and provide respite.

Eighty percent of Americans have said their wish is to die at home. Heart ‘n Home can help keep your patients out of the ER and comfortable, at home. The services provided by hospice care are what Americans want; yet 83 percent of them don’t know about hospice care.

Heart ’n Home affirms life and supports more meaningful experiences. If you have a patient or resident that could benefit from the gift of hospice, contact us today.

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Early Referral to Hospice = A Higher Quality of Life

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CMS recognizes that making medical prognostication of life expectancy is not always an exact science.  Thus, physicians need not be concerned.  There is no risk to a physician about certifying an individual for hospice care that he or she believes to be terminally ill.  (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Hospice Care Enhances Dignity and Peace As Life Nears Its End) Read more about physician support in hospice.

“I’m very thankful for the excellent service. I am sorry I waited so long before calling hospice.” – Mildred, Spouse



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Providing Comfort at the End of Life

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The number of hospice patients with a short period of service continues to be a concern.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) shared their concerns about the number of people who benefit from the care and services that hospice provides for a short period of time. NHPCO’s newly issued report, *Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America indicates that just over 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries accessing hospice received care for 14 days or less in 2015. “The earlier a person is referred, the more Heart ‘n Home can do to help. The patient and family receive the most benefit if they begin hospice services before it is a crisis. Sadly, many people believe that hospice is unavailable or inappropriate until literally, the last days of a person’s life,” said Cindy Lee, RN, CHPN, Heart ‘n Home CEO & Owner.

Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America provides an overview of hospice care delivery in the U.S. with specific information on hospice patient characteristics, location and level of care, Medicare hospice spending, hospice provider characteristics, and more. Statistics from the new report reflecting 2015 data:

  • 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.

Recent research from Yale and published by the Journal of the American Geriatric Society suggests that individuals who access hospice care often do so too late to benefit fully. Also, additional strategies are needed to better address the high burden of distressing symptoms and disability at the end of life.

Comfort care or palliative care is an essential part of medical care at end of life. Since the goal is to prevent or relieve pain and suffering, while respecting one’s wishes, an earlier referral to hospice helps achieve this goal. Often times, spiritual and emotional issues can take some time to work through for the patient and possibly the family. When given the ideal adequate amount of time, relief can be provided to the entire family, not just the dying individual. If you know someone that could potentially benefit from hospice services, please call us today at 1-800-467-7423.

*The primary data source used for the findings in NHPCO’s new Facts and Figures report is CMS hospice claims data included in the hospice standard analytical file Limited Data Set. The Hospice Cost Reports, also available from CMS, provided supplemental information.

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