Dear Barbara, our hospice needs some educational information to share with laymen on doctor determination for admission and how two doctors may not agree on a patient meeting criteria. Basically, how can one hospice find a patient appropriate and admit them, and another hospice not admit the same patient.
You ask a very important question about different hospices accepting and not accepting the same patient. With a large number of hospices operating in the same area the competition has become fierce. If one hospice refuses to take a patient the doctor just hangs up and calls another hospice until he finds one lenient enough to take the person on. It isn't the way service was intended but is what is happening throughout the country--to the determent of what the hospice philosophy originally intended.
How can you educate the public? Newspaper articles about hospice and the services it provides are good but don’t happen often. What you can do is make frequent community education presentations to Senior Centers, local civic organizations, and church groups. Make your presence known to the community so you aren’t just relying on physician referrals.
What are some resources to help physicians understand admission criteria? The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and The National Association for Home Care and Hospice are organizations that may have literature to offer physicians and the community. However, I think doctors already know the guidelines for placing a person on the hospice program. Hospice Medicare has been around long enough that everyone working in the medical field knows hospice accepts people who are estimated to have six months or less to live and are not receiving treatment for their life threatening illness. It is that simple. All the rest . . . just details. It isn’t really about physician education. It is about knowing when to stop active treatment, when to say “I can’t fix you”, when to think about quality of living instead of quantity of breathing.
What can you as an agency do about agency competition for referrals? Keep your integrity. Be the best hospice you can possibly be, provide the highest quality of care with the most compassionate, caring staff your area has to offer. Build a reputation within the community not of how many patients you serve but what kind of compassionate, “we go the extra thousand percent for our patient”, care you provide. Build a reputation within the community that makes people want to be taken care of by YOUR hospice, not just any hospice.
Something more about... A Hospice With Integrity
Hospices all over the country use my 25 minute film, NEW RULES for End of Life Care to educate families about end of life and hospice. They show the film at Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, Churches, Community Centers, Kiwanis meetings, etc. to say, when the time comes, THIS is how we will care for you. In other words, the film is used as a conversation starter and as a calling card to their hospice.