During Hospice and Palliative Care Month, it’s important to understand that not all hospices are created equal. There are major differences, and it’s important to know about them because it can impact patient care. A leading consumer publication cited several important questions to ask when considering hospice care. Among them:
Do they have hospice-certified nurses and doctors on staff?
Are hospice-certified staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
Is the hospice a not-for-profit?
Ohio’s Hospice Chief Nursing Officer Mary Murphy echoes the importance of asking about the clinical staff when considering hospice care. “Find out about the number of doctors and nurses on staff, and about their training,” Murphy suggests, “Not every hospice has full-time physicians dedicated to patient care. Not every hospice has nurses on staff who are certified in hospice and palliative care.”
“Superior end-of-life care begins with physician-directed care,” Murphy says. “That’s why we have full-time physicians on our staff, all of them board certified in hospice and palliative care.”
Hospice focuses on caring for patients who have a terminal illness, whereas palliative care is a subspecialty of medicine focused on caring for people who have serious, but not necessarily terminal, illness. Both focus on providing patients with relief from the symptoms associated with their illness and supporting patients and families as they cope with the stress of a life-limiting illness.
Physicians at Ohio’s Hospice are available to address patient needs in every possible patient setting – in the patient’s home, in long-term care and assisted living facilities, in hospitals and in Hospice Houses.
“Physician availability means a lot,” Murphy emphasizes, “especially at 2 a.m. when a patient’s condition has changed, and a caregiver needs immediate expert medical advice.”
Doctors aren’t the only specialists on staff at Ohio’s Hospice.
Nursing staff can also earn certification in hospice and palliative care. Skilled and certified hospice nurses are specially trained to address the needs of patients facing life-limiting disease. Ohio’s Hospice has made earning certification a key component of training for nursing staff.
“Just as you want your cardiologist to be specially trained in caring for heart disease and related symptoms, so, too, should you make sure that a hospice has physicians and nurses specially trained to understand and meet the specific needs of patients and families,” Murphy says.
With staff available, 24/7, the affiliates of Ohio’s Hospice are available to provide patients and families superior care and superior services. Every Ohio’s Hospice partner is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving the local community. Find a list of our locations by clicking here.