Power Struggle Between Hospice and Assisted Living Sparks Care Challenges

Hospice services can help seniors remain in their homes as they near the end of their lives, including those who live in assisted living communities, but sometimes a power struggle arises regarding which care provider is in charge. 

In the past, seniors had to move out of assisted living communities if they developed a life-threatening illness. Many were admitted to nursing homes to get around-the-clock care, reports The New Old Age blog of The New York Times, but that has changed. 

[N]ow, assisted living facilities usually try to help residents remain in their apartments, even when they’re seriously ill and eligible for end-of-life hospice care. 

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That’s good news for seniors who want to die at home; about one-third of assisted living residents now do so, according to Maribeth Bersani, senior vice president of public policy at the Assisted Living Federation of America.

But arranging hospice care in assisted living facilities presents challenges. A handful of states—Idaho, Mississippi, and North Dakota—won’t allow hospice services to be provided at assisted living centers, deeming the needs of end-of-life residents too demanding for these facilities.

A common misunderstanding surrounds how much attention assisted living centers can give to someone who is terminally ill and whose medical needs are intensifying. “Assisted living is not like a nursing home: staffing ratios are much lower, and less help is available,” said Beth Breen, senior executive director of three assisted living centers for Centura Health at Home, a division of Colorado’s largest hospital network.

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Assisted living staff may have worked with the resident for years, but when hospice staff comes in and takes charge medically, a different set of relationships and a different kind of communication becomes necessary, said Judi Lund Person, vice president of compliance and regulatory leadership for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.”

Read the full article here. 

Written by Jason Oliva

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