Do You Know? The Hospice Movement
Providing comforting care is a global mission
T hroughout the 27 years that I’ve led Hope Healthcare, I’ve heard the same phrase: “I wish I had found Hope sooner.” This expression always makes me pause because I realize that there was needless suffering before we were able to help.
In America, there are many reasons that palliative care and hospice care are often provided too late within one’s illness journey. Some of the reasons include: committed physicians who remain hopeful that the next medical intervention will extend life, regulations that prevent some from qualifying for care, individuals and families who fear the request for palliative care will make death imminent, and a population that doesn’t understand what palliative care is and how it can help.
Despite the fact that formalized hospice care originated in the 1960s and palliative care has been available for centuries, misunderstandings and roadblocks often prevent access to much-needed care. This is not only a national issue. It is a global issue. People are suffering far too long before receiving help.
As part of a delegation from the National Partnership for Hospice Innovation (NPHI), I traveled to Oxford, England, for the opportunity to join leaders from hospice programs throughout the United Kingdom for a collaborative that included an intense and rich exchange of ideas. We learned that our countries share similar challenges and that feelings are universal.
At Oxford, representatives from the United States and the U.K. united with the hope of better integration of palliative and hospice care into health care models and greater access to care. One of the many ideas generated at this summit was a global education campaign. This inspired me to expand our educational outreach efforts within my own Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope Healthcare, interacting with patients dealing with life-changing illnesses
The final chapter of life should be just as special as every chapter before it.
community. Here are a few things you and your loved ones should know:
1 At the core of the hospice and palliative care movement is the idea that comfort during serious illness is more than easing physical pain and symptoms. This care includes a team of caregivers and loved ones all dedicated to comfort— physical, emotional, practical and spiritual.
2 A study published in the New England Medical Journal shows that hospice care may actually prolong life and it has been proven to improve the quality of life.
3 Palliative care can be provided at any time to people who are living with serious illness or complex medical conditions. This care complements a physician’s plan of care and can provide relief from the side effects from treatments.
4 Asking for comforting care earlier in the journey can prevent needless suffering by those living with serious illness and those who are providing care.
5 In America, the Medicare Hospice Benefit actually provides for hospice care. It is an incredible gift.
6 The final chapter of life should be just as special as every chapter before it. Like birth, the end of life is more than a medical event. This last part of life’s journey should be filled with love.
One of the originators of the hospice movement, Dame Cicely Saunders, once stated: “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all that we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”
Today, palliative and hospice care advocates from all over the world are motivated by this powerful idea. We encourage everyone to live fully—even during times of illness and especially at the end of life. Hope’s care can help you do this.