Hospice Services for Nursing Facilities
By: Dr. Margarita David DNP, RN
Having a hospice provider working as a partner with a nursing home may improve the quality of care a nursing home resident receives during end of life. Many studies have shown that having a hospice presence in nursing homes reduces hospital readmissions, improves the facility’s performance scores, and facilitates conversation between the resident and their families regarding end-of-life treatment options.
The difference between nursing homes and hospice
When a loved one’s health condition declines, the decision to transition to comfort care is not an easy one. However, before a decision is made you must know the difference between a nursing home and hospice.
Hospice care services
Hospice is an approach to care for people experiencing a life-limiting illness. It offers comprehensive services that address the physical, spiritual, social, and emotional needs and preferences of the patient and family. The hospice team includes nurses, doctors, social workers, certified nursing assistants, and chaplain and bereavement services to ensure that the patient receives medical, physical, emotional, and spiritual support in any place the patient calls home.
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities
Nursing homes and long-term facilities serve as a place where the patient lives and needs assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and toileting. Care is provided by trained nurses that are ready to handle the nursing and medical requirements of the residents.
Patient hospice care eligibility
For a resident to qualify for hospice care, the resident must meet the hospice eligibility requirements that have been established by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Although there is not a standardized list to qualify, CMS guidelines help with determining if a resident’s condition is appropriate to receive hospice care.
Role of hospice in long-term care homes
Hospice care is provided wherever an individual resides, which includes long-term care facilities and nursing homes, and provides specific services at the end of life to residents and their families. The long-term care facility staff provides residential, custodial services to the resident, while hospice care tends to the end-of-life needs. This is what makes hospice and the long-term facility mutually beneficial to each other. Here are few examples of the role hospice plays in long-term care facilities:
- Specialized skill sets. Hospice staff provide additional expertise to the long-term care facility which include quality of life and comfort during the end-of-life phase. Additionally, once the resident has passed the family is provided with grief support.
- Improved resource management. The hospice team will coordinate everything related to the hospice plan of care, including medications and coordinated care for the resident that includes their primary doctor, hospice doctors, hospice aides, and hospice nurses.
- Expert medical education. The hospice team provides education that focuses on the resident’s condition, symptoms, and medications.
How hospice can assist nursing home staff
The hospice team and the nursing home staff share the responsibility for the resident’s end-of-life care.
The nursing home’s staff has a key role in the care of residents since these professionals are often the first individuals to notice changes in the resident. It is important to educate nursing home staff on recognizing signs and symptoms of end-of-life and when to notify the proper healthcare provider. The hospice team provides education that focuses on the resident’s condition, symptoms, and medications, and how to best care for a resident’s medical needs.
Coordinating patient care
Hospice staff helps in the coordination of the resident’s care and medications needed across all their healthcare providers, hospice team, and nursing home staff. This coordination of care assures proper communication and gives the resident’s family the ability to have questions answered.
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