Consequences of Late referrals to hospice

Families who perceived that their loved ones were referred to hospice "too late" were less happy with the end-of-life care of their family member. In a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, one out of ten families felt that hospice care was not provided soon enough. 

Quoting from the NHCPO website: 

"Timely referrals ensure that patients and families can experience the wide range of available services and benefits hospices can provide. Hospice provides symptom control, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient's needs and wishes. Family members also receive support, caregiver training, and help coping with the loss of their loved one." 

"Experts agree that hospice is most beneficial when provided for at least three months. NHPCO reports that the median length of service was 26 days in 2005 with 30 percent of people served by hospice in the U.S. dying in seven days or less. Furthermore, while eight out of 10 Americans have indicated they would prefer to spend their final days at home, those who received hospice for seven days or less were more likely to be cared for outside of their homes." 

"In many cases, families aren't aware of what they are missing and don't realize how hospice can make a world of difference for the comfort and quality of life for their loved ones," [said Stephen Connor, NHPCO vice president for research]. "One of the most common complaints hospice providers hear from families following the death of a loved one is 'why didn't we get hospice care sooner.'" 

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