Is Hospice Care Dangerous for Nursing Home Residents?

Doctor touching patients hand

Hospice care is intended to improve the quality of life for those experiencing advanced terminal illnesses. Its goal is to care for patients rather than cure them. Hospice care can be an invaluable service both for those fortunate to receive it and their family members, but the quality of care isn’t universal; it can vary significantly from one provider or facility to another.

Though hospice care often occurs at a patient’s residence, it can also occur at medical facilities like nursing homes. Understanding the quality of hospice care in nursing homes versus care in non-nursing homes, it helps to first understand how quality is assessed.

How “Quality” of Hospice Care Is Measured

The quality of hospice care is most commonly measured by surveys of bereaved family members. Since a minority of family members complete surveys, this data can only show part of the picture. Other approaches to assessing the quality of hospice care in different settings include examining differences in the clinical characteristics among hospice patients, though even less of this research has been conducted than family member surveys.

Both of these methods are very limited, and researchers have noted that the rapid expansion of hospice care in the U.S. has made measuring quality even more challenging.

In other words, there’s a lot the medical community doesn’t know about the quality of hospice care. However, the available research does shed some light on hospice care in different settings.

Is the Quality of Hospice Care Worse in Nursing Homes?

Based on surveys of bereaved family members, quality of care in nursing homes is less likely to be described as “excellent.” More than two-thirds of respondents with family members receiving hospice care at home reported that care was excellent, compared to 64% for assisted living facility residents and 55% for nursing home residents.

Researchers speculate that these lower nursing home ratings could be because respondents’ loved ones weren’t receiving care in a “setting of their choice,” e.g., in a nursing home versus their own private residence.

Family members of nursing home hospice care patients were also less likely than family members of assisted living facility or patients at home to report that care had been utilized at the right time. Typically, dissatisfaction with the timing of hospice care stems from a belief that care was provided too late rather than too early.

Nursing home hospice care patients’ families were more likely than the families of patients at home or in assisted living facilities to say they didn’t receive information on the use of medications or treatments for respiratory problems. They also responded that they received less information about key aspects of their loved ones’ clinical care.

Quality of Hospice Care Depends on the Quality of Providers

Ultimately, the quality of hospice care that a nursing home resident receives hinges on the quality of the healthcare professionals providing that care. Experiences can vary widely in the nursing home industry as a whole, and it might even vary to a lesser degree within a single nursing home.

We all want the best for our loved ones, especially if they are in their final days. When you’re determining whether a nursing home is a right fit for your loved one, it’s worth taking the time to research the facility’s approach to hospice care.

Sawyer Law Firm Represents Residents and Their Families

At Sawyer Law Firm, our Alabama nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers represent people with loved ones living in nursing homes. We know how important the quality of care is for a resident’s family, and we seek compensation when nursing home healthcare providers fall short of their duty of care.

If you’d like to schedule a free consultation about a potential nursing home abuse or neglect case, contact our team today to get started.

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