Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 years old, and up to 85 percent of them are living with at least one serious illness. That translates to millions of adults living with chronic diseases that may shorten their life expectancy and dramatically impact their quality of life. Without a coordinated care plan, many patients are caught in the revolving door of emergency rooms and doctors’ offices, incurring millions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs, not to mention creating needless stress for both patients and their family caregivers.
Health care experts and advocates agree that the time is now to move toward a model of whole-person, advanced illness care navigation that helps people make the most of not just their final days, but their final weeks, months and even years. National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is the perfect time to draw attention to the ever-evolving landscape of health care for serious, chronic and terminal illness.
Beyond hospice care
Palliative care, also called advanced illness care, is supportive care for people with serious illness that’s provided wherever a patient calls home. It focuses on the whole person, optimizing quality of life and minimizing suffering by anticipating, treating and even preventing disease symptoms. Advanced illness care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals who have expertise in symptom management, advance care planning and care coordination. They work with patients and families to develop individualized care plans that align with patients’ goals and values.
The most familiar type of this care is hospice care, which is specialized palliative care for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less. But advanced illness care is also for patients who are not eligible for hospice, either because of treatment preferences or because their illness is not considered terminal.
Advanced Illness care can be provided at any stage of acute or chronic illness and can be offered as part of curative treatments. People living with a diagnosis of chronic lung disease, (also known as COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), cancer, dementia, diabetes and neurologic conditions such as MS or ALS can all benefit from this type of supportive care. The goal is to provide the best possible quality of life for patients and their families through a true patient-centered approach.
Changing the face of care
Along with national organizations like AARP, the American Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Society and caregiver organizations, Hosparus Health is leading the charge to change the face of care for serious illness.
Hosparus Health has been providing compassionate care for patients and families facing complex illness for the past 40 years. We believe we are among the top 20 nonprofit hospice and palliative organizations in the nation by the number of hospice patients served, serving nearly 7,800 patients and their families in 37 counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana annually.
We feel so strongly about our proven model of hospice care that earlier this year, we added “Health” to our name to reflect our expanded focus beyond traditional hospice to include comprehensive advanced illness care and management. We’ve launched our advanced illness care program in 32 Kentucky counties and plan to expand to our entire service area and beyond in 2018.
This fee-for-service program is designed to provide that extra layer of coordinated support for patients and families that insurance does not cover. Our hope is that by investing in this program for patients and families and documenting successful outcomes, we will encourage passage of a new Medicare insurance benefit. Until that time, we are committed to serving patients who will benefit from this program, regardless of their ability to pay.
The rapid growth of the aging population means demand for quality care continues to grow. Not only that, but more and more people are taking back control of their care, demanding to live better, longer — right up until the very end. Comprehensive advanced illness care offers anyone dealing with serious illness the very best chance to shine as long and as bright as they can.