If someone in your family is suffering from terminal illness, would you care for them yourself, or would you find hospice agencies to provide them with treatment and support to live their last days in peace?
More than 40 percent of families in the United States seek hospice care when someone in their family becomes so ill that they are unlikely to survive for more than a few months. Hospice care is social and medical care for people who are terminally ill. Healthcare professionals and volunteers provide treatment, residential facilities and psychological care to help them relieve through their last days.
However, despite the increase in people looking to find hospice care for their patients, it is often difficult to find a one to match the rising demand. In 1998, only 18 percent patients were admitted to a hospice but now the demand has nearly doubled. A detailed look at the barriers faced by terminally ill patients and their families looking for hospice care will help in understanding the underlying reasons for the gap between supply and demand.
1) While Awareness Has Increased, Majority Of People Still Do Not Know Much About Hospice
One of the biggest hurdles in accessing hospice service is the lack of awareness. The distinction between curative, palliative, and hospice care treatments are blurry for most.
Many people simply do not know that hospice services exists, and simple misconceptions can sometimes result in missing out on important information. For instance, many people mistake hospice as a place instead of a service.
Many people have heard the term “palliative care” but they do not know what it means and do not think that hospice services are available to ease the process of dying for the terminally ill.
Even more concerning, patients and their families are also unaware of the benefits of this service. Lunch and learn discussions and seminars on hospice can help in change of perspective. Many people also reach out to Grace for help with understanding hospice care services and benefits.
2) It is Difficult Gathering Information to Find Hospice Care
Adding insult to injury, hospice providers don’t make it easy for patients and families to find and compare options. Generally, there is a lack of readily available information on the availability of such services.
Some agencies might not have a website, and even if they do, it might be hard to find or navigate. When the average person searching for these services is older than 65, it makes finding the right provider nearly impossible. Many people leave it to doctor referrals, but even that is not always reliable.
3) Doctors and Patients Fail To Discuss Options
When it comes to end-of-life conversations, doctors do not have the best track record of success. In a recent study, 99.99% of doctors reported that they had difficulty discussing end-of-life topics with patients.
Studies have also shown that clinicians can sometimes have a hard time estimating disease prognosis and patient survival chances. Some clinicians have also admitted that they do not discuss hospice until they have exhausted all the curative treatment options.
Lastly, sometimes doctors deliberately don’t provide information because they themselves do not have adequate knowledge about the range of services provided by hospice care. Despite the $86 dollar medicare reimbursement incentive to bring up end-of-life planning, many doctors are not comfortable with the conversation, whether it’s due to lack of knowledge in the topic or no bedside manner training.
In the same vein, many families fail to bring the subject up with the doctor. A 2009 Harvard study has reported that more than 50 percent of patients with end-stage lung cancer did not discuss hospice care with their doctors. Life expectancy of these patients is no more than four to eight months.
Culture and religion shape perspectives about life and death. People attribute death with fear and discussing it is considered a taboo in some cultures.
The onus, then, falls on the doctors to keep cultural and emotional sensitivities in their mind when bringing this topic up with the patients and their families. Automatically the clinicians prefer curative over palliative care.
4) People Are Reluctant & Take Time To Decide
Surveys have shown that people take time in contacting hospices even when caring for the terminally ill patient at home is difficult. Families are mostly in denial and don’t want to entertain the thought of parting with their loved ones. Sometimes religious or cultural affiliations can also preclude access to hospice and by the time they decide, it is too late.
No matter the reason, conversations around end-of-life care and quality of life wishes should be had. For peace of mind, and Find Hospice care, call Grace at 844-472-2323 today to learn about your family’s options.
5) It is Difficult to Know the Differences Between Hospices
Not all hospices are the same, and people don’t know the differences. In a world where most things are online, it is still hard to find hospice care, as most of it is still offline; making it even more difficult to compare. Spending time learning about a hospice agency is important. Do you research, read as much as you can, and make an effort to speak with someone at the hospices you’re vetting.