Hospice care is quite often misunderstood. One common misconception relates to hospice care delivered in Long-Term Care Facilities or Nursing Homes. For those who are unaware of what hospice care actually is, it can be defined as follows:
“A specialty type of health care that focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting patients and families dealing with a life-limiting illness. Hospice involves an interdisciplinary team approach to provide medical care, pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support. The emphasis is on comfort rather than curative treatment and is designed to neither postpone nor hasten death.”
This type of care is often delivered at the patient’s home, where they are comfortable and surrounded by friends and families. The question remains, “where is home?” In some cases, a skilled nursing facility is “home.” Since 1990, Community Hospice has been providing hospice services to residents of long-term care facilities. It is important that this type of specialized care is available to those who need it, regardless of their place of residence.
Some patients with life-limiting illnesses are no longer able to stay in their homes for a variety of reasons, but they still need the specialized services offered by hospice. The majority of residents in a long-term care facility setting suffer from chronic diseases; such as: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke to name a few. In addition to the difficulty of managing the symptoms of these diseases (weight loss, pain, discomfort, agitation, etc.), it is quite common that these residents will have multiple hospitalizations over time. In these situations, Community Hospice may be able to help. The staff and volunteers of Community Hospice partner with the employees of these facilities, their physicians and the patient’s family to develop a plan of care that provides added support and strives to achieve the goal of keeping the resident in their most comfortable environment rather than back and forth to a hospital.
The hospice team never replaces the nursing home staff, but rather they work as a team. It is common to wonder why hospice services are offered in a long-term care facility. The best way to explain this is to remember that hospice is a specialized type of health care focusing on supporting the resident on many levels (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.). It is the goal of the hospice team to promote quality of life and comfort at a seemingly difficult time for the resident and caregivers whether they are family or health care professionals.
When a resident elects hospice care in a facility, the hospice is now responsible for their overall care and addresses the patient’s individual needs while recognizing the similarities and differences of someone with a life-limiting illness who happens to reside in a long-term care facility instead of a private residence. In addition to the care received from the facility staff, a patient/resident with hospice will receive (based upon need) the additional assistance from the hospice team:
Nurses: Assess the physical needs of the resident to ensure that their pain and symptoms are managed effectively.
Social Workers: Bridge a lot of emotional gaps and connect with these residents on a personal level while ensuring they work with the facility staff to maximize any community resources available to them.
Certified Nursing Assistants: Assists facility staff in providing personal care (bathing, shaving, brushing hair, etc.)
Chaplains: Because hospice utilizes a holistic approach, our chaplains provide spiritual support to both patients and families
Volunteers: Provide companionship and, through our 11th Hour Volunteer program, are available for a resident during the last hours of life.
As mentioned, this is in addition to the care the resident is already receiving at the facility. One could view hospice as an extra set of “eyes, hands, and ears” to assist with the resident’s overall care. They will receive the added support on all levels of physical, emotional and spiritual care.
Also, the same services offered to patients in the home are offered in the facility. For example, all medications related to their life-limiting diagnosis will be covered by hospice as well as certain medical supplies, medical equipment and therapy services.
It seems that it would be a relatively easy decision to choose hospice for a loved one who resides in a skilled nursing facility. Although the percentage of hospice patients being served in skilled nursing facilities has increased over the past few years, the most recent statistics (provided by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 2012 Facts and Figures) state that 18.3% of total hospice patients reside in a long-term care setting.
Even though hospice care is not a “new” concept in health care, there is much education that is needed to fully understand this service and, for that matter, to understand how long one should receive hospice care. It is a common for a family member to express, “I wish we had known about hospice services sooner” or “I wish we would have accepted hospice services sooner to have this support.” At the end of the day, when is the right time for this care? If the question arises, call us today.
There are specific guidelines for this specialized care, but Community Hospice offers free evaluations to see if someone qualifies for the program. If you know someone who may benefit from the care provided by Community Hospice, whether they live in a nursing home or elsewhere, please tell them about our hospice services or call us at 800-926-6184.
Community Hospice is always looking for volunteers to visit our nursing home patients. You can help by calling LuAnn Vance, Director of Volunteers, at 606-329-1890 or 800-926-6184.
Nursing Facilities Served by
Kentucky (Boyd, Greenup, Carter, Elliott,
Lawrence, Johnson and Martin Counties)
• Woodland Oaks
• Boyd Nursing and Rehab Center
• Carter Nursing and Rehab Center
• Elliott Nursing and Rehab Center
• Oakmont Manor
• South Shore Nursing and Rehab Center
• Wurtland Nursing and Rehab Center
• Trinity Station
• Kingsbrook Lifecare Center
• Mountain Manor of Paintsville
• Martin County Health Care
Ohio (Lawrence and Scioto Counties)
• Sanctuary of Ohio Valley
• Sunset Nursing Center
• Jo-Lin Health Center
• River’s Bend Health Care
• Heartland of Riverview
• Fountainhead Nursing Home
• Best Care Nursing and Rehab Center
• Concord Health and Rehab Center
• Bridgeport Healthcare Center
• Hill View Retirement Center