Patient care is a priority for hospices everywhere. That’s because one of the key goals for hospices is to bring comfort and solace to patients who are under the care of nurses and medical staff. But as hospices look to improve their interactions with patients while simultaneously addressing their end-of-life wishes and needs, there are a few valuable metrics that can help identify ways to maximize patient-centered care.
As a way of providing up-to-date information, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created a comprehensive database of nationwide hospices with detailed rankings on categories such as “emotional and spiritual support” and “treating the patient with respect.”1 Additionally, these categories are broken down even further, and offer greater insight about the importance of end-of-life conversations and discussing a patient’s personal needs with them.
With all of this in mind, here’s a look at how hospices can aim for a higher ranking according to the CMS database:
Offer Valuable, Emotional Support
Being fully present and available to hospice patients is important to helping them feel validated and understood. Surprisingly, though, this doesn’t always happen. For example, a survey conducted by the Massachusetts Serious Illness Care Coalition found that only one-quarter of individuals with serious health conditions discuss their end-of-life wishes with their medical team.2 There is always room for improvement – and hospices can benefit from making room for these conversations and offering emotional support as part of patient-centered care.
Create a Safe Space for a Patient’s Spiritual Beliefs
When end-of-life conversations do occur, sometimes the focus can turn to one’s spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof. Within their ranking database, CMS notes that “patients and caregivers should have the opportunity to discuss their spiritual and religious needs, beliefs and values to help ensure these care needs are met.” Whether the patient’s desires are focused around these areas or elsewhere, the goal is to establish ongoing, clear, two-way communication and help them feel like they have a safe space to share their spiritual thoughts and ponderings.
Respect a Patient’s Needs
When creating a seamless process to start an end-of-life conversation, it is also equally important to assess the patient’s preferences and desires and document the conversation. Be open and receptive to listening to their needs. Once a patient’s needs are identified, the type of plans that can be put in place to fulfill them can then be discussed with key caretakers. More than anything else, this will help hospice patients feel that their final wishes are being understood and honored.
By taking the aforementioned factors into consideration, hospices can optimize outcomes and enhance patient-centered care, and in turn, receive a higher ranking all around.
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1 U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ”Medicare.gov Care Compare,” 2020.
2 Hospice News, “End-of-Life Experts Call for Expansion of Patient-Centered, Goal-Concordant Care,” December 22, 2020.