There has been a huge shift in recent years regarding where people die.
According to a new report recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, for the first time in at least a half-century, the home has surpassed the hospital as the leading place where people pass in the United States.
Hospice programs are a key reason for this trend. The majority of people under hospice care pass either in their own homes or in a nursing home.
“One of the most prevalent myths about hospice is that it means going to—or ending up in—a place,” said Kaylee Williams, RN, BSN, of Community Health Professionals (CHP) Home Care & Hospice in Defiance. “The truth is, you can receive hospice at home, at a hospice center, or in a nursing facility.”
Williams says hospice is designed to treat patients where they are best suited to receive it, for as long as they need it.
Hospice in a nursing facility
Rhetta Yoder and her sister, Thelma Yoder, are caregivers to their 95-year-old mother, Clara Branham. Both sisters are nurses, Rhetta an LPN, and Thelma an RN. After several years of caring for their mother, they needed help.
“Sadly, we could no longer care for mom in her home due to a recent fall that resulted in her being hospitalized,” Rhetta said.
After her release from the hospital, the family chose to have Clara admitted to SKLD Nursing Facility in Defiance where she continues to receive care simultaneously from CHP Hospice.
“This is her new home,” Rhetta said. “This is where we want mom to finish her life. Our family appreciates all the love and care that she receives here from both CHP and the staff at SKLD.”
According to Williams, specialized hospice and palliative services blend smoothly with the general care that an assisted living community or nursing home already provides its patients.
“Our hospice team delivers care that complements what the patient is already receiving,” Williams said. “The staff of the facility becomes an extension of the patient’s family.”
An additional level of care
And, that extra level of care is what families say makes the difference with having hospice provided in a nursing facility.
“End-of-life care offers an additional level of comfort and caring,” Rhetta said. “My sister and I have learned so much from the hospice nurses. It’s amazing!”
For instance, Clara’s therapist utilizes pressure points in massage to control her pain since Clara is allergic to most opioid medications.
“We’re both nurses and we thought we knew what hospice was,” Rhetta said. “Now, when we hear the word ‘hospice,’ it has a whole different meaning.”
Williams says a goal of the hospice team is to help family members understand, prepare for, and support each other throughout a terminal illness. She says it helps families make choices that are right for them to confidently give the best care possible. “We cannot imagine what mom’s care would be like without having CHP Hospice and SKLD services,” Rhetta said. “It’s hard to find people to take as good of care of your mother as you do. We’re blessed with two fine groups of caregivers.”