The other day I had the pleasure of speaking at the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (CHPRMS) meeting. After my presentation, two men in the audience talked with me about how they feel hospice has always had the patient experience at the core of their model. They’re right.
Hospitals are working hard to overcome provider-centric processes and systems to become more patient centered. In acute care settings, the patient enters the medical world and often submits to the professional’s instructions, rules and expertise. They are in foreign territory. Hospitals are evolving with time, but in many organizations, it remains a huge paradigm shift. While progress is being made, many still have a long way to go.
By contrasts, hospice care has always been patient driven. In most cases the staff are on the patient’s turf and are visitors in their homes, not the other way around. Having been a public health nurse who transitioned from critical care to public health, I can attest to the fact that the location of my nursing care created a huge shift in my approach. I developed a much greater sense of the nurse/patient partnership when on their turf.
It was one year ago this week that we learned my mother was terminal. Our Rainbow Hospice team stepped in and worked hand-in-hand with us to ensure that we had what we needed in order to care for mom in her own home. Their first question was always directed at what mom wanted. They always let her drive the plan and provided us with the tools and support our family needed to care for her at home. Even after her death, they have maintained a strong connection to help maneuver our uncharted journey through the grief.
When they asked me who in our family may need extra support, I expressed that my two developmentally disabled siblings were struggling. They immediately sent in social workers to talk with them and provide them the support they needed. Even though both are in their 50’s and living independently they were panicked at becoming “orphans.” One year later, their support continues and there’s a comfort knowing that hospice remains there for us.
Rather than looking all over the world for best practices in patient-centered care. Start with your local hospice. They’ve got it down to an art and a science.