Donald Schumacher: Hi! I am Donald Schumacher President and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and we are talking about Hospice care. Many people say to me over the years when do we begin Hospice care? When is it time for us to make that telephone call and I must tell you that really the most interestingly the time to start begin that is now. Even though you may not have an imminently terminally ill person in your family, it would be always important for you to do some of the research necessary to figure out, what the illness is, what the projection trajectory of the illness is what we might want to think about and looking at and planning for and inevitability, if somebody in your life is in fact terminally ill.
You can look at a variety of websites our is specifically nhpco.
org can give you a whole bunch of information about things you might want to consider about hospice care, and the opportunity for you to make the referral. Often times, people say to me why don't we call hospice sooner? Our doctor didn't refer us to until the last two or three days of my mother's life and that was really, really terrible. She would have in a much better pain and symptom management, had she come into hospice sooner and that unfortunately is too often the truth. About the one third of the patients 33% come in and die within seven days of hospice care. They get wonderful care, they receive wonderful service, but they often times find that it arrived a little bit too late, to avail themselves of the full range of benefits that hospice care can provide. So not waiting too long is very important. If you have the sense that the patient in your life or yourself is really facing a terminal illness, then it really is time for you to reach out, first begin with your physician. Ask your physician if its time for a hospice conversation, if he or she agrees then perceive with that conversation. If not go to the website gather some information and some data talk with your loved ones around the family kitchen table. Some times these conversations are a difficult and painful. But often times they are very clarifying because they help the individual patient make sure that what it is that they want to be done for them is front in center in the family and everyone knows about it. If you have questions about this and your physicians is not willing or able to talk with you about this then make sure you ask to speak with hospice professional when you call so that that individual can give you some information as well. Some times we all know physicians have a very hard time making this referral and sometimes the diagnosis is so unclear, they are not exactly sure the hospice is ready for this opportunity themselves. So the thing to do is to gather some additional information. If your doctor tells you that perhaps patient is not ready for hospice, avail yourselves a palliative care of consultations at your local hospital, doctor nurse, social worker, pastoral care can provide you with some consultation and help you with decision making, as you go through the process of being treated for your illness, before you are eligible for hospice care. There is some research that shows that a patient who comes into hospice lives on average about 29 days longer when compared to patients, who have similar diseases and illnesses. So not only is it beneficial for you to get the kind of support services that are necessary, but in fact it may provide you with a more comfortable and longer terminal life year, as you move into the process of dying. Next we are going to talk with you about how hospice care is paid for.