Hospice Care in an Assisted Living Facility? Why Not?
Written by Barbara Reed
Many people live fulfilling lives in Assisted Living communities. Their days include social events, dining, perhaps volunteer opportunities, and a measure of independence in their own apartments. Many develop deep friendships with other residents and affection for the staff. Families of residents often form a strong bond after seeing one another visiting family members on a regular basis. In short – the time spent living in Assisted Living can be very rewarding for the resident and the family, and a deeply meaningful experience for the staff at the facility. So why would anyone want to change all these components just because a person qualifies for hospice? When one’s health condition changes and a person can qualify for hospice care, most of the time that person can stay in the assisted living community – with additional support from the hospice team. The hospice team works hand in hand with the community team, ensuring that the care plan created by hospice is manageable within the level of care that the assisted living community offers. This goes back to the core values of honoring the wishes of a patient and the family.
I’ve had an opportunity to see first-hand how this collaborative care can be so successful. Before joining Front Range Hospice, I worked for over 8 years for a large assisted living provider. I saw on a daily basis how complimentary these two disciplines can be……from the perspective of the assisted living community. We all want the least restrictive, most independent environment for the resident. The collaborative relationship between assisted living and hospice creates the best end of life quality for the resident and the family. A referral for hospice care early in the resident’s disease process allows the two teams to develop strategy to maximize all of the ways hospice provides care.
I recall clearly a patient in her 40’s for which the assisted living community and Front Range Hospice provided amazing care. She had no family living locally and she had been ill long enough that only her most loyal friends stayed in touch. When I was first made aware of her situation, it was through a phone call from the case manager at the local hospital – looking for a good fit for her favorite patient. I was able to show the case manager how closely the wellness team and Front Range Hospice work together. On the recommendation of the case manager, the patient moved into our community and became our resident. As she began her decline, these two teams decided to host a tea party in her room – complete with china cups, tea pots, and sweets. We took turns enjoying the company of our resident/patient and we were so happy to do this for her!
September 7th – 13th is National Assisted Living Week – a time to honor the incredible work done every day by our Assisted Living partners.
Please remember that a move from the familiar surroundings of home – whether someone lives in their own home or in an assisted living community – can be very stressful. Front Range Hospice will work closely with the assisted living team to ensure the best possible care is given wherever the patient calls home. It is essential to understand what care is needed now, and as the patient’s health declines – what the assisted living community, family, and patient should expect going forward. Honest and open communication is the key to caring successfully for a hospice patient in an Assisted Living community.
If you are considering relocating a patient or a loved one from Assisted Living simply because that person qualifies for hospice, please consider the option to have that person stay in his or her home – surrounded by their familiar support systems and receiving Legendary Care from Front Range Hospice.
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