Many people think that end of life care (also called hospice care) is only for patients who are in the hospital, a “hospice house” or their own house. This is not true. End of life care is also provided in assisted living communities.
Sometimes assisted living residents who are terminally ill require intensive medical care and are better served in a hospital or nursing home. However, quite often families, physicians and the assisted living staff feel that it is in the best interest of the resident to remain in the community while receiving hospice care. Often the residents themselves indicate this is their wish through advance care planning discussions.
Why? This is their home – the place they know and are most comfortable. It is where they have developed close relationships with other residents and with staff they know and trust. Receiving hospice care at home surrounded by people who love them brings comfort and dignity to the person who is dying. It also offers important emotional support for their family.
Hospice care is typically provided by an outside agency, not the assisted living community. Both organizations work closely together to provide the best possible care for the resident. Good communication between the family, the assisted living staff, hospice staff and paid personal caregivers (if they are involved) can make all the difference in the hospice experience.
Hospice care ranks high in surveys
Hospice is becoming a more widely understood and desired concept of care at the end of life. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization:
- A Gallup poll reveals that close to nine in ten adults (88%) would prefer to die in their homes, free of pain, surrounded by family and loved ones. Hospice works to make this happen.
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization research shows that 94% of families who had a loved one cared for by hospice rated the care as very good to excellent.
- Hospice care, as well as certain medications and medical equipment, is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has indicated that expanding the reach of hospice care holds enormous potential benefits for those nearing the end of life, whether they are in assisted living communities, nursing homes, their own homes, or in hospitals.
If your loved one lives in an assisted living community and you are considering hospice care, speak with the Resident Care Director who can provide recommendations on local agencies offering hospice and palliative (pain management) care services.