Tomorrow is the last day of November. While we have experienced all the turkey we could take & a major Election earlier this month, November is also known for National Hospice & Palliative Care Month. The celebration of this pass month affected close to 1.6 million people last year. Of the 2 million people that passed last year, 1.6 million had Hospice care. With over 1.6 million Americans who take advantage of Hospice, it would be interesting to discuss and discover what Hospice is really all about.
While the topic of Death, Dying and Grief are extremely hot controversial topics; the role of Hospice adds another dimension that has extended the lives of its participants on an average of 29 days. There are many Hospice organizations in the Los Angeles County area, but I’ll be highlighting a unique organization called Nurses Plus Hospice.
Nurses Plus Hospice is committed to empowering the lives of their patients, families and community by advocating quality-of-life through the spirit and philosophy of compassion and lifelong learning. Nurses Plus Hospice is transitioning to do new and extraordinary things—pioneered by the late Carmelita Z. Mabini—in the world of Hospice. Here to give us a great highlight of Hospice care in the 21st century is Christopher Mabini, Administrator and Co-Owner along with his brother, Jeremy Mabini, Vice-President of Nurses Plus Hospice.
1) What Hospice Is?
To me, Hospice can mean more than just providing pain-relief or symptom management for life-limiting conditions for which aggressive/curative treatments are no longer beneficial or wanted. It provides an opportunity for quality-of-life to be experienced by the patient and family/caregivers. Many times “hope” is equated with the word “cure”, but in hospice, “hope” is allowing the loved one to make the transition from life to death a peaceful, inspiring, and loving process for both the patient and family/caregiver. By relieving many of the burdens that come with death and dying, Hospice allows the patient and their family to spend the quality time they need together in order to properly prepare for this physical, emotional, psychosocial, and for many, spiritual experience.
2) How is it that Hospice patients live on an average of 29 days longer?
Sometimes when I tell people about this study done by Connor, S. et al. in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, that based on their findings, the average life span of hospice patients was found to be about 29 days longer compared to non-hospice patients, I get this common reaction: ‘oh, that’s all?’
But 29 days is 29 days more than not having them at all, and when you’re loved one has a life-limiting condition, each day definitely counts. Because Hospice has a multi-disciplinary approach to care, the focus is to essentially improve the overall well-being of our patients. It makes sense to me that when you address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual domains of life, you can expect positive outcomes in overall health and quality-of-life.
3) How is your Hospice different from others?
I think the best way to address this question is to ask what the motivation behind each Hospice organization (or any other organization for that matter) is: business or mission? After you know that, there really is not that much difference from there.
4) Why would Hospice care be beneficial? Is it optional or extremely important?
Because of the many misconceptions people have about Hospice, it really prevents a lot of people from knowing the truth about it. Hospice can be such a huge help in so many ways. It can lift many of the financial burdens of the patient and family since 95% of the costs, which includes all patient visits from a range of disciplines, medications and medical equipment/supplies, and coordination of all services, are covered through Medicare/Medi-Cal, Tricare Insurances, and other Health Plans. Hospice is also intended to take care of the patient in the comfortable surroundings of their own home, surrounded by their family. Instead of calling 911 in the event of the emergency, patients and family members can speak to a RN from the Hospice 24/7. Every Hospice even has a bereavement program to provide grief support to the family members who are coping and dealing with their loss for at least 12 months. But perhaps most importantly, it empowers everyone involved in the process to take an active approach to making the end-of-life transition a positive, meaningful, and special experience.
5) Why choose Nurses Plus Hospice?
Nurses Plus Hospice was founded by my Mom; Carmelita Z. Mabini. Before the Hospice opened its doors to the community, however, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and eventually passed away June 3, 2005. Seeing my Mom deal with a life-ending cancer was not easy, but what enabled me to see the silver lining in all this was seeing how she was at peace throughout the whole process. It was because of the quality-of-life she experienced in her last days and months – spending quality family time with myself and my brother, pouring her passion out for the Hospice she was trying to see up and running before she left, and having a new appreciation for the simple and complicated things in life. Seeing her at peace helped us, the kids, be at peace too. These memories of my Mom and the values and pearls of wisdom she shared with us kids are things I believe she would have wanted to share with the world. To know that there is hope in making such a difficult and emotional process a peaceful, meaningful, and even inspiring experience is at the core and heart of what we do and why we do it.
6) What it celebrated in the month of November?
For all Hospices and Palliative Care Programs, November is a very special month. It is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, which is a time to recognize all those who play a very special part in the care of those who are near death – caregivers, family members taking care of their own family, the healthcare workers providing the compassionate care, volunteers who make up a vital component of the Hospice team, all the bereavement and spiritual counselors who play such an important role near the end-of-life, and everyone who advocates for patient-rights and quality-of-life. Every November we like to hold a special memorial for all of our patients and families who’ve ever been on our service. We call it ‘Remembrance of Life’, where we call each family member representing their loved one to light a candle in their memory. By the time all the names are called, the room is filled with lighted candles. We then open up the floor to allow the family members and close friends of the patient to “Remember their Life” by sharing a story or a something that this loved one would have wanted the world to hear or know. We thank all those who’ve been there or cared for someone in their last phases of life.