Tag Archives: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

Hospice Facts and Figures

Stats

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.

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Hospice Care: No Limits

Recent statistics gathered by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) state that 1.65 million Americans are cared for by hospice organizations each year. The number continues to grow. Why? Because hospice provides the care Americans have said they want.

A Gallup poll has determined that 88% of Americans would prefer to die at home, free of pain, surrounded by loved ones. This is what hospice care makes possible. As a whole, our nation’s hospices appear to be doing a good job. 94% of Americans who’ve had family members in hospice rate the care received as good to excellent, according to NHPCO research.

One of the key messages that hospices nationwide are communicating to the public deals with the six-month time period. The major qualification for hospice care is a prognosis indicating that a patient has six months or less to live. But there is not a six-month limit on hospice service.

A patient may receive hospice care for as long as necessary when a physician certifies that he or she meets eligibility requirements.

Under the Medicare Hospice Benefit, two 90-day periods (six months) are followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods.

Because there is the six-month prognosis requirement AND the initial enrollment period for hospice is also six months, there are misunderstandings. Some patients and family members may fear that if the patient does not die within the six-month period, the patient will be dismissed from hospice. But that is not the case.

Hospice patients do not have to worry about “using up” their hospice benefit.

Even though hospice care is becoming more popular in America and familiar to more Americans, the education process regarding hospice care is an ongoing effort. If there is an aspect of hospice care that is not quite clear to you and your family members, call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

Hope Hospice provides hospice care to residents of St. Louis city and county, Jefferson county, St. Charles county and Franklin county.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hospice Survivors

One of the great misconceptions of hospice care is that it is only for those who are just days away from dying. We at Hope Hospice work to educate the St. Louis community that hospice is for all persons who have a life expectancy of 6 months or less.

But some hospice patients live beyond the 6-month time period. Upon reevaluation, a patient may be determined to be well enough to go off of hospice care. Or a patient may be recertified to allow care to continue. Hope Hospice closely follows state and federal guidelines regarding patient eligibility.

A recent article on hospice care that ran in the Washington Post points suggests reasons why some patients outlive “a legitimate prognosis of six months.” Citing an executive at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and others, the article states: “A larger portion of patients today have diseases whose outcomes are harder to predict. That’s because the portion of hospice patients suffering from cancer, a disease that has a more predictable course, has shrunk.”

An article distributed by McClatchy newspapers in 2006 shares details of a Harvard Medical School study of doctors’ diagnoses of terminally ill patients: “In 4 out of 5 cases doctors’ estimates of how long a patient would live were wide of the mark by at least a third. That is, for a patient who actually died in 30 days, 80 percent of doctors predicted 20 days or less or 40 days or more.”

One reason for the increased number of hospice survivors may be the actual care provided by hospices. The McClatchy article suggests: “With the focused attention of hospice doctors, nurses, social workers and spiritual counselors, patients get their medications adjusted and take them regularly. They get painkillers adequate to assure a night’s sleep. They eat regularly, and their loved ones get some help and relief.

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A clinical director at a hospice in Pennsylvania said, “Often, just taking away the pain and enabling them to sleep through the night gives people a second wind.”

If you have questions about hospice care and the benefits of hospice care, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

 

 

 

 

We Honor Veterans at Hope Hospice

Hope Hospice has recently partnered with We Honor Veterans, a program developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This partnership will enable Hope Hospice to better serve U.S. Veterans and their families. We have always held Veterans in high regard and have had the honor of providing hospice care to a large number of Veterans. Our new partnership with We Honor Veterans allows us to certify our commitment to providing an even higher level of care to Veterans.

It is important for Hope Hospice staff members to show a special respect and appreciation for  the Veterans in our care. We Honor Veterans training for Hope Hospice personnel informs them about many of the wars and conflicts that America fought before they were born. Possessing knowledge about World War II as well as wars fought in Korea, Vietnam and the Mideast, helps our team members better communicate with those Hope Hospice patients who are Veterans.

Just over twenty-five percent of those who pass away each year in the United States are Veterans. A vast majority of Veterans are not enrolled in VA and may not be aware of end of life services and benefits available to them, including the Medicare hospice benefit and VA-paid hospice care.

We Honor Veterans is not just the name of the program, it is a philosophy that we at Hope Hospice are proud and happy to embrace. We recognize the unique needs of our nation’s Veterans who may be facing a terminal illness. In cases where there are specific needs related to military service, combat experience or traumatic events, Hope Hospice will find tools to help support those we are caring for.

We pledge to bring comfort to our patients who are Veterans and to offer our guidance and counsel to their families and, in so doing, honoring their service to our nation. For more information about Hope Hospice and the We Honor Veterans program, please call 314-984-9800.

 

 

Hospice Costs: The Rest of the Story

Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey delivered a popular feature called “The Rest of the Story.” He would hook listeners with a catchy opening, provide some vague details and then reveal an often surprising ending. His concluding line was always: “And now you know… the rest of the story!”

How about this for an attention getting headline? “Government Spending More Than $12 Billion On Hospice Care.”

In 2011, ABC News reported that the amount Medicare pays hospice care organizations had increased 53% from 2005 to 2009. The main reason, says the report, is the number of patients using hospice also increased significantly.

The amount that Medicare paid hospices in 2009 was over $12 billion dollars, according to the ABC News report. That’s billion with a “B.” That’s a lot of money. That’s a figure that gets attention.

ABC News, to its credit, goes on in the report to explain what hospice care is, then quotes Robert Field, a health management professor from Drexel University in Philadelphia. He says that hospice care “is used more and more because it’s worked out for many people.”

The story also quotes the Don Schumacher, head of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, who makes the excellent point that “hospice still saves the government money.”

The ABC report concluded with two telling quotes:

“For every patient admitted to hospice, it saves approximately $2,250 compared to patients with similar illnesses not admitted to hospice care,” said Schumacher.

“The fact that the government is spending more on hospice care might be a good thing,” said Field. “That could be money we’re not spending on long-term care or hospital care.”

Yes, Medicare spending on hospice care has increased because more people are using hospice. More people are using hospice because more people know about it and have been told about its benefits. Because more people are using hospice instead of spending time in hospitals, hospice is actually saving the government money!

And now you know…

….the rest of the story!