Keys to Quality End of Life Care

When we enter this world, we're surrounded by love, comfort and care.

Don't we deserve the same when we leave?

Keys to Quality Care

The Key to Receiving Quality End-of-Life Care: Planning and Information

  • To ensure that end-of-life wishes are honored, nothing is more important than planning. Discuss your wishes with family, loved ones, and friends -- and your health care providers. Begin the conversation. Hospice can help.
  • Despite enormous medical advances, too many Americans still die alone or in pain. Too many endure costly and ineffective treatments. And patients at the end of life are being referred to hospice care too late, or not at all..
  • National Hospice Foundation research on end-of-life care found that Americans are more willing to talk about safe sex and drugs with their children than to discuss end-of-life care with their terminally ill parents. Only 24% of Americans put into writing how they want to be cared for at the end-of-life. A substantial portion, 19%, have not thought about end-of-life care at all, while 16% have thought about it, but not told anyone their wishes.
  • The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization estimates that for every one hospice patient, there are two more who could benefit from hospice services.
  • The Medicare Hospice Benefit guarantees comprehensive high-quality end-of-life care -- at little or no cost -- to America's terminally ill Medicare beneficiaries and their families.

Hospice care is what Americans want.

  • National Hospice Foundation research shows that the top four services Americans feel are most important for a loved one who has less than six months to live are: (1) someone to be sure that the patient's wishes are honored; (2) choice among the types of services the patient can receive; (3) pain control tailored to the patient's wishes; and (4) emotional support for the patient and family.
  • The NHF research showed that 80% of Americans said their wish is to die at home. Of the 2.4 million Americans who die each year, less than 25% actually die at home. Of the 700,000 patients who receive hospice care, over 75% die at home.
  • In addition, the research found that people are willing to have an outside organization come into their homes and assist with care for a family member in the last stage of life. Sixty-six percent would welcome help from an outside organization, like a hospice, while 24% would prefer to take care of the family member by themselves, with the help of family and friends.
  • Hospice staff receive special training to effectively anticipate, assess, treat, and prevent all types of physical symptoms that cause discomfort and distress.

Hospice care is recognized as the gold standard for end-of-life care.

  • Hospice care is a growing and viable option for quality end-of-life care. In 1999, hospice care was provided to at least 700,000 patients, up from 540,000 in 1998. Clearly, as Americans learn more about hospice, they are recognizing that it's the kind of end-of-life care they want and need. Hospice care is not limited to six-months of care for terminally ill individuals.
  • A terminally ill patient may receive hospice care for as long as necessary when a physician certifies that he or she has life expectance of six months or less.
  • Many insurance companies, as well the Medicare Hospice Benefit, require that a terminally ill patient have a prognosis of six months or less, but do not limit hospice care to six months.
  • Under the Medicare Hospice Benefit, there are two 90-day periods of care (a total of six months), which are followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods.

Americans are aging.

  • Today, there are nearly 40 million seniors in the U.S. In the next 30 years, that number is expected to double, as baby boomers reach age 65. Considering the discussions taking place in the media, online, and in other arenas, these boomers will place importance on dying well, just as they have emphasized living well. Hospice provides the quality care that allows people to live well at the end of life.     

Americans need more information about hospice care to make educated decisions about their end-of-life care.

  • The services provided by hospice care are what Americans want; yet 83% of them don't know about hospice care.  Rather than reinforcing their fears about death, we need to ensure that every American understands that hospice care provides the compassion and dignity that they want and need at the end of life.     

Hospice is the model for end-of-life care. 

  • Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end-of-life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient's needs and wishes. Support is extended to the patient's loved ones, as well.
  • At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us should be able to die pain-free with dignity, and that our families receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. The focus is on caring, not curing.
  • Many patients experience pain and other distressing symptoms as illness progresses. Hospice staff receive special training to effectively anticipate, assess, treat, and prevent all types of physical symptoms that cause discomfort and distress.