The latest report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPNO) offers important and meaningful statistics regarding hospice care in the United States. The most recent year for which full stats were available is 2013.
The average time that a patient was on hospice in 2013 is 72.6 days.
Among hospice patients in 2013, 34.5% were on hospice 7 days or less before death occurred. 14.3% were on hospice for 8-14 days. Another 12.7% were on hospice for 15-29 days. This means 61.5% received care for less than a month. (We presume that many of that 61.5% might have qualified for hospice sooner and received a more complete assortment of hospice services.)
66.6% of hospice patients were at home in 2013 when they passed away. That number is composed of 41.7% who were in private residences. 24.9% were in nursing homes or other residential facilities.
Approximately 84% of hospice patients in 2013 were age 65 or older. 41.2% were 85 or older.
Of those admitted to hospice in 2013, 36.5% had a cancer diagnosis. The majority, 63.5%, had non-cancer diagnoses. Those included dementia (15.2%), heart disease (13.4) and lung disease (9.9%).
Family evaluations of hospice care after their family member’s death included this positive result: 73.5% of those surveyed rated their family member’s care “excellent.”
According to NHCPO estimates, the number of hospice volunteers serving patients topped 355,000 during 2013. They provided approximately 16 million hours of volunteer service.
The Medicare hospice benefit covered 87.7% of hospice patients in the U.S. during 2013. Medicaid, managed care and private insurance covered 10.0%.
These cold, hard stats are useful but they cannot describe the warmth and compassion that most hospice employees and volunteers have for their patients and families. The numbers are impressive, but it is important to remember that, ultimately, hospice care is about quality rather than quantity.
For information about hospice care in metro St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.