“The goal is not a good death. The goal is a good life--all the way to the very end."
Atul Gawande, M.D., MPH, surgeon, writer, and public health leader
Meaningful hospice conversations don't focus on death, they focus on aligning care with the priorities and goals of those we serve. While every patient is unique, with distinct family dynamics, research shows some common goals and wishes for end-of-life care.
About 8 out of 10 Americans would prefer to be cared for at home rather than in a hospital or nursing home if diagnosed with a terminal illness, according to the findings of a survey by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organizations in 2014.
94 percent of respondents whose family had previously been served by hospice said it was a positive experience.
Respondents said the most important aspects of a good death were:
- Spending their final days with family members present
- Dying with dignity
- Having pain managed to to their desired level
- Receiving spiritual counseling
- Hospice does provide the option of being cared for at a place the patient calls home: 96 percent of hospice care is provided in the patient’s home or place they call home.
- An overwhelming majority of adults said they would be interested in the comprehensive program of care at home that hospice programs provide. Yet most Americans know little or nothing about their eligibility for or availability of hospice.
- When asked to name their greatest fear associated with death, respondents most cited “being a burden to family and friends,” followed by “pain” and “lack of control.” Addressing the whole range of physical and psychological needs of the patient and his or her family in an interdisciplinary way is what makes hospice care so special.
- 90 percent of adults believe it is the family’s responsibility to care for the dying. Hospice provides families with the support needed to keep their loved one at home, and can take over fully to give the caretaker short “respite” periods.
- Most adults believe it would take a year or more to adjust to the death of a loved one. However, only 10 percent of adults have ever participated in a bereavement program or grief counseling following the death of a loved one. Hospice programs offer one year of grief counseling for the surviving family and friends.
*Sources: Quality of Life Matters. End-of-Life Care News and Clinical Finding for Physicians, Vol. 6, Issue 4, Feb/Mar/Apr 2005.