The statistic in the headline above is one of those “good news/bad news” numbers.
It is good news because it reveals that hospice use in the US is growing. The number of patients on hospice continues to increase annually, as more people learn about hospice and its many positive qualities.
But that number is also bad news because it tells us that almost two-thirds of those who die each year in America do not use hospice. We believe that a large number of the individuals within that two-thirds who do not choose hospice would benefit from the services that we at Hope Hospice and other hospice agencies deliver.
Why do dying patients—ones who would qualify for hospice care—choose not to utilize hospice? In most cases it is because of the many misconceptions about what hospice is and what it does. Patients (and family members and other caregivers) are often misinformed about the illnesses that hospice covers. They may also be misinformed about the length of time a patient can be on hospice.
An important statistic indicates that the majority of hospice patients in the US are under the care of hospice for thirty days or less. We feel this is sad news because hospice care can last for six months or longer, based on the patient’s condition. The misconception that going on hospice care equals “giving up” is another that we work hard to dispel.
Why do these misconceptions persist? Possibly because we in hospice are more focused on doing our work that on sharing information about our services with the public. A more likely reason is that the modern concept of hospice is still relatively new to many Americans.
We find that many people—even those in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s—are unaware of the services provided by hospice until we explain it to them.
We encourage you to learn more about hospice and ask that you share your knowledge with friends and family. Call Hope Hospice to learn about hospice care available in metro St. Louis at 314-984-9800. Or visit our website HopeHospiceStL.com.