This month, communities across the country are doing their part to spread the word that November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and Hospice of Santa Cruz County (HSCC) is emphasizing the importance of the care that hospice provides for all residents, regardless of age, location or diagnosis.
Consistently more than 90 percent of people polled say they want to die at home surrounded by their loved ones, with their symptoms managed and their pain controlled. However, more than 70 percent of us die in hospitals and other institutions. Though the use of hospice has increased, only 41.9 percent of patients nationally receive hospice care and often not until the last week of life, too late to attend to all the needs of the dying. HSCC strives to reach all appropriate patients and families so that support can be provided for many months ar the end-of-life.
During this last year HSCC provided compassionate, professional end-of-life care to 850 patients and their families throughout Santa Cruz and Northern Monterey counties. The grief support team compassionately guided 1,619 hospice family members and 712 grieving community members through their grief journey. Recognizing the special needs of children in grief, 994 grief support sessions were provided for children and teens. All services are offered in English and Spanish.
“National Hospice Month reminds us that the care we are privileged to provide brings hope that helps people at the end of life to live as fully as possible. Hopsice care offers dignity and comfort when there is not a cure and surrounds families with support at one of life’s most challenging times,” said Michael Milward, chief executive officer, Hospice of Santa Cruz County. National Hospice Month also serves as a reminder that while there are many end of life care options, hospice provides the most opportunities to live life fully. Researchers found that the patients receiving hospice care reported a higher quality of life through the final course of their illness.
“We want to ensure that people understand that help is available and that’s why National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is so close to our hearts after decades of observance. November provides a special opportunity to educate and inform communities,” said Milward. HSCC provides expert pain management, symptom control, social support and spiritual care to patients and their loved ones when a cure is not possible. Hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medi-Cal and by most insurance plans.
“There’s an inaccurate perception among the American public that hospice means you’ve given up, when It’s really about living life to the fullest. Hospice and palliative care allows patients and their families to focus on what’s most important, living life and creating memories that can be cherished despite an advanced illness,” Milward said.