A hospice nurse was recently asked, “How can you work in hospice? It must be so sad!”
She answered, “I love providing highly skilled, compassionate care because I know I make a huge difference in the quality of a person’s life. Hospice isn’t about dying but about living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness. I love that I can use my training as a nurse to bring comfort and dignity to my patients, and I love seeing the relief on their faces and on the faces of those who care for them. I love being a part of a professional hospice team that works together to offer individualized, holistic care to families when it is critically needed. I love that I can offer practical solutions to patients and families during some of life’s most challenging moments.” She went on to speak about the years before she was a hospice nurse, and how she had experienced the compassion and support of a local hospice when her mother was terminally ill. She closed by saying, “We cannot change the reality of our patients’ conditions, but we can certainly impact their experience. What my mother’s caregivers did made me want to be a hospice nurse.”
The second value of Hospice Compassus is Integrity, rooted in the commitment to hold a firm and unwavering adherence to codes and regulations. Every Medicare Certified hospice provider must adhere to both state and federal regulations, which are monitored by external surveys for compliance. Beyond the requirements of external oversight, Hospice Compassus assures compliance and quality are achieved and maintained through voluntary internal regulatory oversight. Adherence to this higher standard of practice is monitored and enforced by a team of clinical and compliance professionals. Margaret Carlson, RN, Executive Director for Hospice Compassus says “I have comfort in knowing Hospice Compassus is committed to providing the best hospice care, with regulatory compliance at the basis of our success. It is even more impressive that Hospice Compassus anticipates the changing needs of healthcare and implements programs to support quality beyond the requirements, further demonstrating the integrity of our leadership.”
She, along with Dr. Carl E. Strauch, MD, Hospice Medical Director, and Dr. Ed Rufus, MD, Associate Medical Director, provides oversight of their Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement initiatives, including the most recent quality initiative: Keeping the Promise 2012.
During a recent National Medical Directors Meeting in Scottsdale Arizona, the details of this program were released to Hospice Compassus leaders from across the country.
“Keeping the Promise 2012” is a commitment to deliver the highest possible quality care to hospice patients in Illinois and all across the U.S. Former Sen. William “Bill” Frist, MD, delivered the keynote address at the event, joining some of the nation’s most recognized and influential hospice and palliative care physicians in supporting the Initiative. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is scheduled to release a set of hospice quality measures in 2012, and hospice programs will be required to publicly report on the measures in 2014. Hospice Compassus has voluntarily tracked its own quality data since January 2011, because of this the company will be able to report on a full three years of meaningful quality data by the time other hospice programs are required by CMS to begin their reporting.
The primary quality indicators in “Keeping the Promise 2012” are patients’ pain levels and the education they receive regarding medication, treatment and symptoms. Hospice Compassus is tracking these and other indicators to measure its performance against self-imposed quality standards.
“Hospice providers serve in a clinical and compassionate role that is very important yet drastically underutilized in the continuum of care. All healthcare is about helping those in need, and hospice and palliative care alleviates suffering and improves the quality of life,” said Dr. Carl E. Strauch, MD, Hospice Compassus Medical Director.
More than 1 million people in the U.S. receive hospice care each year, although as many as 50 percent of those who have the option of hospice care never access the benefits. A study of the end-of-life experiences of those not utilizing hospice reported that 40 percent of patients were in severe pain prior to their deaths, and 25 percent experienced moderate to great anxiety or depression before they died.
“We will continue delivering the most compassionate care to patients and their families; and by measuring our quality, we will improve our service here in Illinois and set a new standard for all hospice providers across the U.S. That is what ‘Keeping the Promise 2012’ is about. That is what we are going to achieve,” said Ms. Carlson.
The Local Hospice of Choice
Local Hospice Compassus teams provide hospice services to Peoria and eighteen surrounding counties. Patients and families are comforted, knowing that their care providers are familiar with and have connections to their local communities and cultures. This is why the people of Hospice Compassus live among you and have served you for years. The Illinois program has office locations in both Peoria and Galesburg to ensure efficiency for supply availability, team communications and supervisory oversight.
Hospice is Patient Driven
While using the services of Hospice Compassus, each patient and family have access to the team twenty-four hours a day. Upon admission, each patient is assigned a team comprised of his or her attending physician, hospice physician, registered nurse case manager, hospice aide, chaplain, social worker, dietician, volunteers and bereavement coordinator. The hospice team collaborates with the patient and family to design a plan of care based on a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s needs. Ami Keller RN, Director of Clinical Services, explains: "In hospice care the patient and loved ones help the team understand their wishes, and we as the care providers help develop a plan to ensure those needs are met." The team of professionals understands that every patient is unique, with his or her own special needs. As an example, some patients may prefer to tolerate a degree of pain in order to be more alert, while others may choose to work with the physician and nurse to adjust medications and eliminate their physical pain entirely. Hospice nurses walk this journey daily with their patients and develop a very close understanding of the family. Even after normal business hours and on weekends, there are designated nurses to respond to calls for support or to make visits based on changing patient and family needs.
Hospice is Support for the Survivors
After a patient dies, the hospice team continues to have contact with the family and other loved ones. Hospice Compassus offers a comprehensive bereavement support program, led by the Bereavement Coordinator. Bereavement services are part of the Medicare benefit for hospice and are provided at no cost. Bereavement support is as individualized as the patient care is. In some cases the Bereavement Coordinator will meet individually during the healing period, while other family members find group settings most helpful. Bereavement support groups are offered throughout the communities we serve. In addition to counseling and personal support, Hospice Compassus provides written support materials such as books, newsletters and personal written correspondence to the bereaved. Periodically throughout the year, memorial services are scheduled to honor those we have served and provide another means of support through the healing journey. If you or someone you know is in need of grief support, we encourage a call to the local Hospice Compassus office for written materials or to speak with our Bereavement Coordinator.
Hospice Compassus is a family of community-based hospices. Our nationwide network is a vast resource, benefiting both patients and families. Hospice Compassus has a common culture around three core values: compassion, integrity and excellence. Our primary goals are to provide the highest quality hospice care and services in every community in which we operate, and to be both the hospice provider of choice and the hospice employer of choice. For more information regarding hospice care or Hospice Compassus, please contact our caring staff at 2000 W Pioneer Parkway, Peoria: 309-691-0280.