Referring to End of Life Care does not mean abandonment.
Primary Physicians - Attendings - add a different emphasis to their patients’ care when they refer them to End of Life Caregivers. However, although often less involved with subsequent care, Attendings aren’t any less important to their patients. The length of time and intensity of care between Primary Physician and patient creates strong bonds, and there can be a strong sense of loss in both directions if this referral is seen as parting ways. Center for Hospice Care is very good about keeping Primary Physicians aware of any patient changes, and is very supportive of patients continuing supportive visits to their Attending if they wish to do so. In fact, we encourage conscious efforts by Attending physicians and nurses to remain available even after a patient transitions to end of life care. A phone call or visit, along with conversations regarding current care, can go a long way in preventing feelings of abandonment by patient or Primary Physician.
What's so great about hospice care?
That's a really good question with a plethora of positive responses. The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management published a study that analyzed the responses of nearly 117,000 family members whose loved ones died while in hospice care in the U.S. and according to them, hospice services were rated highly for each of the following reasons.
1. Improving the quality of care, and sometimes even the quality of life, for both patients and families as the patients approach EOL.
2. Communication. The study showed hospice services were excellent when patients and families were kept informed on a regular basis and also when clear expectations on the approach of EOL were shared.
3. Emotional support and a Team that patients and families can rely on "24/7/365". The study reported high grades from patients and families for the hospice team, and the ability to rely on the team for the correct and best possible coordination of care.
4. Pain and other symptom control. The study showed families rated hospice care as excellent and felt confident that it was providing the right amount of pain control and overall support to their loved one.
These benefits might assist you or your loved one, too. Please call us at 574-243-3100, or 1-800-HOSPICE
Gregory C. Gifford, MD JD Chief Medical Officer
Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine