November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

November is 2012's National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and this year the theme is "Comfort. Love. Respect." Partnering up with actress hospice advocate Torrey DeVitto, the NHPCO released this article to usher in the new month of learning and celebration.

Comfort. Love. Respect.

 

(Alexandria, VA) — Every year, more than 1.58 million people living with a life-limiting illness receive care from hospice palliative care providers in the U.S., reports the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. During National Hospice and Palliative Care Month this November, providers across the country are raising awareness of the many benefits of hospice palliative care.

More than traditional medical care

Hospice palliative care provides expert pain management, symptom control, emotional support, and spiritual care to patients and family caregivers when a cure is not possible. Care is provided by a highly trained team of professionals and volunteers.

Most hospice care in the U.S. is provided in the home – allowing people to be with their families and loved ones in comfortable surroundings at the end of life.

Research by NHPCO has found that 94 percent of families who had a loved one cared for by hospice rated the care as very good to excellent.

“Hospice makes sure that people receive comfort, love and respect during one of life’s most significant experiences – the journey at life’s end,” said J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD, president and CEO of NHPCO. “The compassionate way that hospice helps maximize the quality of life is at the center of this year’s hospice month theme.”

DeVitto creates theme

The 2012 outreach theme for National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, “Comfort. Love. Respect.” is based on the firsthand experience of actress and NHPCO Hospice Ambassador Torrey DeVitto who created the phrase for a t-shirt she designed for NHPCO and the National Hospice Foundation earlier this year.

DeVitto, widely recognized for her roles on the hit television series “The Vampire Diaries” and “Pretty Little Liars” has been a hospice volunteer for five years and became NHPCO’s ambassador in 2011.

“As a hospice volunteer myself, I’ve seen firsthand how dedicated individuals provide companionship, support, and a shoulder to lean on at a time when it’s needed most,” remarked DeVitto. “I’m working to help younger people understand the value of hospice and hopefully to get involved as volunteers with their local hospices.”

NHPCO offers six important reminders

“Hospice is not brink-of-death care intended for the last days of life only,” stressed Dr. Schumacher. “Hospice care is most effective for patients and families in the final months of life when families can take full advantage of the range of services hospice provides.”

Palliative care brings the same interdisciplinary team approach earlier in the course of a serious illness.  Hospices are the largest providers of palliative care services in the country with many organizations working to offer a seamless continuum of care through the course of a serious illness.

Six important points to know about hospice:

Hospice care is usually provided in the home - wherever the patient calls home.
Hospice cares for people with any kind of life-limiting illness.
Hospice is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans and HMOs.
Hospice is not limited to six months of care.
Hospice is not “giving up”; rather the focus is on caring, not curing.
Anyone can contact hospice – so call your local program to learn if hospice is right for you or your loved one.

Information about hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning is available from NHPCO’s Caring Connections at www.caringinfo.org or by calling the HelpLine at 800-658-8898.

The “Comfort. Love. Respect.” t-shirt designed by Torrey DeVitto is available for purchase from the NHPCO Marketplace www.nhpco.org/Marketplace or by calling 1-800-646-6460.  All proceeds from the t-shirt sales benefit national hospice outreach efforts.

Resources for outreach

NHPCO members will find materials for hospice and palliative care month at www.nhpco.org/outreach.
Nonmember organizations will find some outreach materials for hospice month at www.caringinfo.org/hospicemonth.

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