New regulations govern hospice care

Published Sep 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm (Updated Sep 11, 2013 at 10:32 am)

Western Pennsylvania’s senior citizens remain one of our greatest treasures. After all, they shaped and molded our region into what it is today, through their vision, dedication and strong work ethic. Considering that many of our seniors reside in long-term care facilities, we must remain conscious of their right to play an active role in their plan of care, ensuring their wishes are respected.

Thanks to a new regulation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the election of hospice care for long-term care residents is easier and clearer than ever.

Hospice offers a continuum of care that focuses on quality of life and comfort, when a cure is no longer possible. Through an interdisciplinary approach, compassionate end-of-life care provides better quality of life for patients facing life-limiting illness, and their loved ones.

The new rules from CMS, which took effect Aug. 26, govern how hospices and long-term care facilities provide care for patients who choose hospice under the Hospice Medicare Benefit. The benefit is an entitlement to all Medicare Part A beneficiaries. The purpose of the changes is to improve coordination of care between hospices and long-term care facilities, resulting in better quality of life and delivery of services for patients who select hospice care. It also contains a provision that ensures that long-term care facilities honor the patient’s right to choose hospice, and to receive care from the hospice of their choice. This is important because not every hospice is the same. Each has its own philosophy of care and range of services. Thanks to the generosity of the grateful families we have served, Family Hospice is able to offer expressive arts and music therapies, massage, and other services beyond the minimum requirements of Medicare.

Family Hospice embraces the new rule, as it assures more consistent communication among the long-term care facility, patient, and the hospice chosen by the patient. CMS realized that nationwide, hospices and long-term care facilities were not always on the same page. In some cases there was duplication of services, and in others, gaps in service and care.

As experts in end-of-life care, Family Hospice works with long-term care providers to determine the best plan of care for those facing a life-limiting illness. In fact, Family Hospice recently offered free webinars on this topic to local nursing facilities with the intent to make the rule clear and ensure ease of implementation.

Family Hospice care teams appreciate the opportunity to work with patients and caregivers to develop the right plan of care for each individual. And thanks to these new rules, we applaud the improved quality of life afforded to our area seniors in local long term care facilities.

Barbara Ivanko

President and CEO

Family Hospice and Palliative Care

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