Anyone that has had a loved one treated in a hospice will know just how much of a positive impact it can have on them, from helping with pain-management to offering emotional support and guidance. It can make a difficult period much easier for both the patient and their family, and many have spoken of how it can be a far better experience than in a hospital.
Recent Hospice Study
Now a recent study has provided further evidence that supports this belief.
It revealed that hospice care for those being treated for the last six months of their life can expect a better overall experience whilst also being less likely to die in a hospital.
“Consistent with other studies demonstrating benefit, the use of hospice care is associated with better quality-of-care outcomes, including patient-centered care metrics,” writes study leader Ruth Kleinpell and her colleagues in the journal BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care.
She reinforced the idea in an interview with Reuters Health, saying “Hospice care can provide patients and families with a better dying experience.”
The team of researchers would study over 163,000 patients that had been enrolled in Medicare, the insurance offered to the elderly and disabled by government, with all of the patients involved the study having died in 2010.
Prior to the study each individual had been hospitalized on at least one occasion in that past two years, with their admission relating to a chronic illness that traditionally has a high mortality rate.
Approximately 47% of these patients received hospice care for the final six months of their life and the resulting evidence highlighted the various areas where improvements took place. These include higher patient satisfaction ratings, better pain control, reductions in hospital days, fewer deaths in the hospital, and fewer deaths occurring with an ICU stay during hospitalization.
Medicare offers hospice benefits for any patient whose life expectancy is six months or shorter. The likes of medications, hospital equipment such as beds, wheelchairs and oxygen, home visits from nurses, along with various other services for both the family and patient.
“The majority of patients today still die in hospitals,” Kleinpell, a professor at the Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago, explains in an interview.
“If someone is hospitalized and approaching the end of life, hospice care is more optimal so they can get the care they need,” she says.
The Importance of Communication
She went on to speak about the importance of communication between doctors, patients and their families. Conversations about the nature of the hospice care should and do take place in these establishments, which helps to provide the quality level of care they need.
“Patients should be enrolled in hospice early,” she said, “so when conditions worsen, they and their family members get the appropriate help to prepare for what’s next.”
It is great to see a large study that helps to support the growing evidence that shows how important hospice care can be. It offers an unrivaled level of physical and emotional care not just for patients, but their loved ones too, reinforcing just how important hospice care is in our modern society.