Letter to the Editor: The importance of hospice and palliative care

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a wonderful time to recognize how hospice and palliative care helps patients and families in Delaware.

This month Delaware Hospice wants to help everyone understand the importance of the care that hospice provides for our residents. Hospice can help all families regardless of age, location, or diagnosis.

While most people state they want to die at home surrounded by loved ones, more than 63 percent die in hospitals and other places. Though hospice serves more families than ever, only 43.6 percent of patients receive hospice care, and often then, not until the last week of life. That’s not soon enough for families coping with the end of life; so much more could be done.

National Hospice Month also serves as a reminder that while there are many ways to cope with the end of life, hospice provides significantly meaningful opportunities to live life fully. Researchers have found that patients receiving hospice care report a higher quality of life and, in fact, live longer.

Delaware Hospice wants to ensure that people understand help is available and that’s why, after decades of observance, National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is so close to our hearts. November is the best time to educate and inform communities.

Delaware Hospice would also like to dispel the inaccurate perception that hospice means you’ve given up when it’s really about living life to the fullest. Hospice and palliative care allows patients and their families to focus on what’s most important, living life and creating memories that can be cherished despite an advanced illness.

“We know hospice provides high-quality care to patients,” reports Katherine Ornstein, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “If we want to understand the impact of hospice care, we should consider the potential benefit not just to the patient, but to the caregiver, and perhaps, the entire family and social network.”

Delaware Hospice provides expert pain management, symptom control, social support, and spiritual care to patients and their loved ones. The Delaware Hospice team answers questions, offers advice on what to expect, and helps families with the duties of being a caregiver. Hospice services are covered by Medicare, by Medicaid in most states, and by most insurance plans. Hospice care is provided in the home, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and long-term- care centers.

If you are or a loved one is facing a serious or life-limiting illness, the time to find out more about hospice and palliative care is right now.

Tracy Tull, RN, MSN, CHPCA

Vice President, Compliance and Education

Delaware Hospice

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