The concept of Palliative Care and Hospice Care, is one which we are very sensitive to here at Regency Nursing Centers. I’ve blogged extensively in the past regarding these distinctions, including over here.
We work with only the most reputable Hospice providers in the State of New Jersey.
I was therefore puzzled and hurt (hurt for the family) when an outside hospice provider (with whom we have no relationship) recently attempted to “screen” a resident for eligibility over the phone?!
Of course, we didn’t allow this to happen, but I found myself thinking how it is that a determination on clinical eligibility of any kind can be ascertained over the phone?!
I’m not talking here about administering proper compassion and how a ‘phone screening’ runs counter to the entire framework of what Hospice means in the first place!
I’m simply questioning the feasibility of such an undertaking from a purely pragmatic standpoint.
To understand the very basis for Palliative or Hospice care doesn’t require ones familiarity with some esoteric and recondite treatise!
Indeed, there is nothing abstruse about it.
Palliative Care or Hospice Care residents should always be screened in a manner which truly allows for a proper determination based upon pre-determined criteria.
In fact, I recently discovered this fantastic study published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health, which examined the questions and concerns about the use of telemedicine in palliative care.
Based on interviews with 17 healthcare professionals who were part of three different palliative care teams in Denmark between 2009 and 2010, the study found that although patients have a positive attitude about the use of telemedicine, the healthcare professionals had some concerns. And the biggest concern involved the ongoing telemonitoring of patients in their homes.
These caregivers expressed the importance of face-to-face communication with the patient over monitoring them with a camera or other device. It is through personal contact, they said, that the caregiver can become aware of subtle changes in patient appearance or behavior as well as establishing the necessary one-on-one personal relationship.
“We found that face-to-face communication is essential,” the authors of the study said. “The participants perceived a potentially added communicative value in visual telecommunication but would never let it replace face-to-face communication. Our study underlines the necessity of face-to-face contact in optimal palliative care and that home visits were favored.”
If this is important for Palliative and Hospice care being administered in the home, then it is equally important when it is being provided in a long term skilled nursing facility.