Hospice care can be a good fit for a variety of patients, and a variety of illnesses. Many associate hospice care with only the elderly, or only cancer patients, but in reality hospice is beneficial for almost any patient facing a life-limiting illness and even offer benefits to their families. A recent study concentrated specifically on the benefits for cancer patients in hospice and found that both quality of care, and quality of life were improved in hospice care compared to a hospital's intensive care unit. Here are the details of that study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School.
The research team began by collecting data on more than 1,100 cancer patients, who had all died by the end of 2011. The reports from surviving relatives overwhelmingly support the hypothesis that hospice offers better end of life care and creates a higher quality of life for cancer patients than does a hospital.
Only 42-percent of families rated end of life care as "excellent" when a patient spent their last days in a hospital. For the family of hospice patients, however, 57-percent rated care as "excellent".
The amount of time a patient spent in hospice care also influenced the satisfaction with their end of life care, which suggests that better advanced planning is needed to allow patients and their families to make decisions before the situation is dire. Those patients who received hospice care for more than 3-days were reported to have had higher quality care than those who began hospice less than 3-days before dying.
Those receiving hospice care for more than 3-days also had family report that they died in their preferred location at an overwhelming rate. 73-percent of families agreed that their loved one died where they preferred when receiving hospice care. Compare that to only 40-percent saying the same when a patient did not receive hospice care.
In a related study conducted at the University of Washington, only one in five family members said that care was consistent with wishes for their loved one in the ICU.
Medical professionals agree that "patients who have access to hospice care have a better quality of death and a more peaceful death than patients in hospitals." This can be attributed to hospice's efforts to consider patients' values and goals when recommending treatment options, and the added layer of support for their families.
In many cases, however, the primary reason that hospice care is considered a better alternative to hospital care is because of the option for most hospice patients to receive treatments in their own home, and die in their own home.
Allowing patients to experience a poor quality of death has been deemed unacceptable by many medical professionals.
To learn more about how hospice benefits patients and their families, don't wait. Contact us at Cura-HPC today and make plans for your end of life care.