November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

Throughout November, UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice joins organizations locally and nationwide in recognizing National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.

For more than 40 years, hospice has provided compassion, comfort and dignity to millions of people at the end of life, allowing them to spend their final months at home or in home-like settings, surrounded by those they love. Hospice ensures that a patient’s pain management, therapies and treatments support his/her comfort goals. This comprehensive care also provides emotional support and advice to family members, empowering them to become confident caregivers while helping them prepare for and adjust to their loved one’s end of life. Bereavement support is provided following the death of a loved one on hospice.

“One of the most frequent comments we hear from families is, ‘Why didn’t we know to call hospice sooner?’ It can sometimes be because folks don’t realize services are available, don’t have a clear understanding of their loved one’s end-of-life wishes or fully realize all hospice and palliative care can provide,” said Judy Peterson, RN, president of UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice.

“It is essential that people understand that hospice and palliative care is not giving up, it is not the abandonment of care, and it is not reserved for the imminently dying,” said Edo Banach, president and chief executive officer of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). “Hospice is a successful model of person-centered care that brings hope, dignity and compassion when they are most needed. This is one reason that the national My Hospice Campaign was launched in 2018.”

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most commercial insurances. According to NHPCO, nearly 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive care from hospices in the U.S. each year. Hospice is unique in that it offers an interdisciplinary team approach to treatment. This interdisciplinary team includes medical providers/physicians, nurses, licensed nursing and patient care assistants, social workers and physical, occupational, music and art therapists, among others. Caring for the whole person allows the team to address each patient’s unique needs and challenges while promoting optimal comfort for patient and family alike.

Hospices are also some of the best providers of community-based palliative care. Palliative care delivers expertise that improves the quality of life and relief from pain and can be provided at any time during an illness — during and after treatment, from diagnosis on.

Palliative care is specialized care available to children and adults with serious illnesses. It focuses on an individual’s comfort and management of pain and symptoms.

To learn more about hospice, palliative care or advance care planning, please call 802-658-1900 or visit www.UVMHomeHealth.org. Additional information is available at NHPCO’s CaringInfo.org and www.StartTheConversationVT.org.