Shauniece O. Lee, LPN, CHLPN, CDP, BS
Board Vice President, Making An Impact
“Is there nothing more that can be done?” This is the question families and potential hospice patients ask as their hearts race fearing they or their loved ones must be in their last days of life. Yet, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) study, 1.55 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in hospice care for a day or more in 2018.
With the plethora of medical specialties and subspecialties in medicine, many individuals do not realize just how much-specialized support a hospice or a palliative care team can provide. In hospice and palliative medicine, our goals intersect with every other medical specialty in communication, compassion, and care for individuals’ life-limiting illnesses or prognoses of six months or less.
A hospice or palliative care team is usually multifaceted or, in medical terms, interdisciplinary. Teams include but are not limited to Nurses, Social Workers, Chaplains, Physicians, and Certified Nursing Assistants. A team surrounds the patient, family, and even caregivers supporting them through the intricacies of illness. End-of-life care for Veterans, cultural diversity, and even end-of-life rituals, and practices are a part of hospice care. In addition to contributing empathy as a patient journeys through the natural course of an illness, the hospice team redefines their care.
With each interaction, staff members administer a listening ear, a stable voice, and an additional layer of medical expertise. Some hospices may also offer complementary therapies, including Reiki, pet therapies, and music therapies. The hospice philosophy of care often seeks to bring a quality of life when quantity may be uncertain.
2020 Edition: Hospice Facts and Figures. Alexandria, VA: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. August 2020. www.nhpco.org/factsfigures