Studies and surveys have shown over and over again that the earlier a patient goes on hospice, the greater the benefits to the patient and caregivers. But many patients still come to hospice too late to receive the full spectrum of hospice services.
Why do patients and caregivers wait too long? In a 2005 survey of families of recently deceased hospice patients, those who felt that their family member had been admitted to hospice too late said the most common barrier was a doctor. Reasons included inaccurate prognoses, disagreements by doctors with hospice philosophies and desires by doctors to pursue further treatment.
Survivors who felt their family member went on hospice care too late were, overall, less satisfied with hospice. Conversely, those who felt their family member became a hospice patient at “about the right time,” are more satisfied.
Of course, in other cases, it is the patient or the family member who may have refused to accept the doctor’s assessment that a condition is terminal.
At Hope Hospice, we admit patients at all stages of end-of-life. Occasionally, a patient dies within just a few days of becoming a Hope patient. We certainly do our best to provide quality service to each patient no matter the circumstance.
But experience has taught us that patients who are on hospice for several weeks or several months develop good relationships with our nurses, home health aides and other professionals. There is trust and good will. We are better able to serve the patient (and the family) when a patient has more time as a Hope Hospice patient.
One of our goals at Hope Hospice is to convince physicians that hospice care is the right thing for their terminal patients whose life expectancy is six months or less. To those in the St. Louis medical community, we encourage you to learn more about hospice and the good things that hospices are doing for patients and families.
If you are a patient or a family member facing a decision about hospice, don’t wait until it’s too late. If you have questions, call us at 314-984-9800.