PALLIATIVE CARE AND HOSPICE CARE COMMITTEE
Pat Trotta and Phyllis Osterman
Both palliative and hospice care address physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs and seek to improve the quality of life for persons with a life-threatening illness and for their loved ones. Hospice focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting persons with a life expectancy of months, not years. Palliative care may be given at any time after diagnosis, and can improve the quality of life for seriously ill persons and their loved ones both during and after treatment.
Hospice care has a long history involving many partners in Connecticut. The first hospice program in the United States was established in New Haven in 1971 and the first freestanding inpatient hospice opened in Branford in 1980. This inaugurated the national hospice movement.
Despite the growing availability of services, many persons with life-threatening illnesses do not receive adequate palliative and hospice care. There are many reasons for this.
Availability and Accessibility of Care: Adequate services are still not readily available in many healthcare settings. For example, only 14 of 26 mid and large sized Connecticut hospitals had a palliative care program in 2007.(1) In 2007, only 28% of Medicare patients dying in Connecticut were on the hospice benefit,(2) and only 27.7 % of deaths in 2006 occurred at home
Coordinated Care: Surveys indicate that Connecticut residents would like:
- Better coordination of care and dialogue with providers about death and dying.
- Prompt referrals to hospice and palliative care.
- Counseling to dying patients, and more access to spiritual care.
Palliative and Hospice Care Workforce: Although numbers are increasing, in Feb. 2009 there were only 27 physicians and 163 nurses certified in palliative and hospice care.
The palliative and hospice care goal for the 2009-2013 Connecticut Cancer Plan is:
“To ensure that high quality palliative and hospice care services are available and accessible to all Connecticut residents”.
Click on the link below to download the Palliative and Hospice Care chapter of the Connecticut Cancer Plan.