New Article Shows Hospice Care in the Nursing Home Offers Benefits to Residents at End of Life

According to a new review article published by researchers at the Harvard Medical School, Department of Health Policy and supported by NHPCO, found a number of benefits indicating that greater availability of hospice holds promise in the nursing home setting.  The article, written by David G. Stevenson, PhD, and Jeffrey S. Bramson, BA, of the Harvard Medical School, Department of Health Policy, finds that while most hospice care in the U.S. is provided in the home, the use of hospice in nursing homes has risen in recent years.

Key findings reported in an article published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found:

  • Hospice in nursing homes can provide high quality end-of-life care and offers benefits such as reduced hospitalizations and improved pain management.
  • The provision of hospice care in nursing homes has been shown to have positive effects on non-hospice residents, suggesting indirect benefits on nursing home clinical practices.
  • Hospice is relatively underutilized among nursing home residents at the end of life.

"More and more hospices are successfully caring for people residing in nursing homes. This growth reflects the increased provision of quality care for dying persons who are not in the traditional ‘home’ setting. For many people, the nursing home is their home and they deserve the compassionate, quality care that hospice and palliative care providers are trained to deliver," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. "This literature review points out many positive benefits of hospice in the nursing home and it reminds us all of the importance of caring for this population."