Nursing Homes Lack Expertise in Recommending Hospice Care Placing Your Family Member at Risk

Your family member, sick and in pain, is in hospice care provider a hospital or nursing home and no one is available to help because the person is the next room is in critical condition and the entire floor staff is rushing around to help this person. You empathize thinking that if you were in a similar situation you would want everyone rushing around to save you. What you really do not know is that this emergency is due in some cases to financial self interest or lack of staff education regarding critical or end of life care. Most individuals do not fear death as much as the experience of a painful death and many nursing homes and assisted living facility staff do not have the training or desire to educate family members about hospice and palliative care services.

How can we make the stress of having a sick loved one, piled on top of daily stress easier for all involved when hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living locations often provide end of life care? Whether you recently experienced the loss of someone you know or are currently experiencing the decline of a loved one there are steps that can be taken to ease the journey but you must be the one to ask questions because many facility staff lack training in hospice and palliative care.

According to research by Lisa Welch, Ph.D. few nursing homes or assisted living facilities have written procedures for regularly assessing residents’ terminal disease status or eligibility for hospice care. Instead, many staff members base their timing and referral of hospice based on their ability to recognize decline, their personal beliefs about hospice services and their initiative in raising hospice as an option. What happens when facility staffs have little or no education relative to palliative or hospice care and family members rely on their level of experience to help their loved ones? The result is often family frustration, little or no pain assessment or management for the loved one and a painful death.