5 Reasons to consider longer hospice stays
By: Rob Stoltz, Senior Director, Business Development, MatrixCare
While the length of stay in hospice is often short, getting into hospice care sooner for a longer stay can provide tremendous benefits to the family, patient, payor and provider. Even with our partners who use data and science-driven solutions to help determine the amount of time left for terminal patients, it can be difficult for providers to have those conversations — so much so that the conversation may never happen or often only happens just days before the patients pass away. This limits the benefits for those in the end-of-life process.
According to a 2021 report by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), half of Medicare hospice patients were enrolled in hospice care for 18 days or less. Of all Medicare decedents in 2019, 48.4% who died did so without hospice support.
The truth is that there are many benefits to getting patients into hospice sooner. Here are five reasons to consider increased stays in hospice care.
1. It allows more time to get affairs in order. From relationships to finances, there are many things people may want to address toward the end of life. Having the ability to do so before health starts deteriorating can be a comfort to patients and their loved ones.
2. It can lower cost. According to a 2018 study, longer lengths of stay in hospice beyond three days were associated with progressively lower rates of utilization and costs, especially for those referred more than 15 days before death.
3. It can increase end-of-life patient satisfaction. End of life care is a difficult, stressful time for a patient and their loved ones — but it doesn’t have to be. By starting hospice sooner, patients can experience comfort with better control of symptoms and pain management. It allows them to spend their last days at home as well. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, about 80% of people in the United States say they would prefer to die in their homes as opposed to a hospital or other health care facility.
4. It can allow patients to live longer. According to research published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, hospice patients live an average of 29 days longer than similar patients who did not have hospice care. While that may not seem like a long time, adding even just several days to the end of life can mean so much to patients and their families.
5. It can benefit the caregiver’s health. Taking care of a loved one through illness and the dying process can be exhausting and takes a toll on the health of the patient’s caregiver. In fact, more than one-fifth (22%) of caregivers are exhausted when they go to bed at night, and many feel they cannot handle all their caregiving responsibilities.
While caregivers are willing to do anything for their loved ones, doing so could adversely impact their own health and quality of life. The hospice workers relieve some of that burden, allowing the caregiver to maintain their own peace of mind.
It’s clear that longer hospice stays have many benefits. Schedule a demo with MatrixCare today to learn how our innovative technology can help hospice providers bring the best care to patients and their families — no matter the length of care.
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