Do You Know? The Hospice Move­ment

Pro­vid­ing com­fort­ing care is a global mis­sion

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - DEPARTMENTS - BY SAMIRA K. BECKWITH Samira K. Beckwith is the pres­i­dent and CEO of Hope Health­care.

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.

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