Donald Schumacher: Hi! I am Donald Schumacher, President and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and we are talking about hospice. Now I am going to talk with you about how the best ways are I would think to go about choosing a hospice program because as one of my good friends always says, if you have seen a hospice program you have seen just one hospice program. Not that hospices are all that different terms of their mission or vision, but different work there, they are located in different parts of your community, they provide perhaps hospice services plus a wider range of other services and in order to get the best sense of what is going to fit for you, you need to begin to do some exploring about this and ask some very-very specific questions. You want to know things like are there physicians, nurses and social workers all board certified and hospice and palliative messing, you want to know do they have 24 hour seven day a hospice availability, are the volunteers available for you at any stage of your illness. Do they have a contract for inpatients services or do they own their own hospice inpatient facility and where is that and how far is it to get to there from where you home is, should you have to go see a loved one who might be there. These are very-very important critical questions, you also want to know in addition to the services that all hospices need to provide, are you providing such things as support groups to people who are caring for loved ones. How comprehensive is your bereavement program, do you have individual one on one counseling, do you have group consoling, what actually does it look like and what could I expect as a family member after the death of the patient to figure out whether or not this is the program for me. We have found over and over again that the best word of mouth for hospice care has been a successful hospice experience. So reach out, talk with your neighbor, ask them if they have had an hospice experience, do they know anyone who has, you will find a wealth of information if you do that because as you know people like to talk about experience that they have had both good and bad and you will be able to gather from that whether or not the hospice you are thinking about is one that was successful in providing care to someone else. Start now if you feel as though if hospice is going to be necessary for someone in your life in the next couple of months and don't sit back and wait and have to make a last minute decision in a moment of crisis. Arrange with you physician a conversation he or she then can walk you through in your state what are the state guidelines, what are the requirements, what paper work is necessary for you to identify what treatments are allowable to you in your mind, if you are unable to make decision for yourself. As a part of that you will also identify someone who will help make those decisions for you, if you were not able to make them verbally allowed yourself. It's a quite critical conversation and if you don't want someone that you don't know making decisions about your care at the end of the life or care as you are going through a serious illness, the time to take care of that is now and to look at what might be required in your state and important for you to identify prior to you becoming very-very ill. It's not a onerous process, it can be confronted because it's talking about your inability to speak for yourself, but other than that it is the most necessary thing that you can do because an un-announced wish is something that cast a very long shadow in a family's life and you don't want your loved one's wondering for a very long period of time what did mother want when she didn't have an opportunity to speak for herself. Your opportunity to do the right thing is now and I think with the amount of information that's available and out there you will be able to come to a good decision with you family. Contact our organization nspco.
org or your local hospice program and ask any questions you might have about hospice care, it's critical that the importance services are available and necessary for you as you approach this time in your life. Advance care planning is exceptionally critical. I want to take the opportunity to thank you for listening and please don't wait too long.