Pro­vid­ing com­fort­ing care is a global mis­sion

RSWLiving - - Department­s - BY SAMIRA K. BECKWITH

Through­out 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 ill­nessesThe fi­nal chap­ter of life should be just as spe­cial as ev­ery chap­ter be­fore it.

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