Friday, March 9, 2012

Assisted Living Facilities Provide Hospice Care (Research, Video 3:48)

Many people have told me that they didn’t know hospice care exists in nursing homes. Even more seem surprised to learn that hospice care can be provided for residents in assisted living facilities. I can’t emphasize enough that hospice care is available no matter where a qualified person lives at home, in an assisted living facility, in a hospital, and even in prison.

What does good quality care at the end of life look life for hospice-enrolled residents in assisted living facilities? A study was done by the Oregon Health & Science University to get detailed descriptions of end-of-life care provided by medication aides, caregivers, nurses, and hospice nurses in urban and rural settings. Interviews were used to gather information. Having worked as a hospice volunteer in urban nursing homes for several years, I was interested in the results. They were very similar to what I would have expected from a nursing home or any other institutional care:

1)   The quality and nature of resident-staff and assisted living-hospice staff relationships are critical in promoting good end-of-life care for residents.

2)   Length of the resident's stay in the facility and how well staff knew the resident were associated with the quality of the resident-staff relationship.

3)   Respectful collaboration, clear communication, use of complementary knowledge and skills of staff, and shared expectations about the care were associated with positive staff relationships.

4)   Administrative support for hospice patients in assisted living facilities was important.

Assisted living facilities and hospice organizations that are committed to working together with hospice programs must both support staff, patients, and families. There is a need for more successful models of this partnering system of care to meet the needs of our growing population of older adults.

This video titled Hospice: At Home, In Assisted Living, In Hospitals relates the positive experiences of patients receiving hospice care in different settings:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.


  1. Because I work regular office hours, I chose to do volunteer work weekends and evenings, and I chose in-home care rather than a hospital. Most of my patients are in senior or assisted living facilities. I've found the staff to be very helpful and friendly. I used to think it was sad that people ended up in facilities like that, but now I can see the attraction of it: round-the-clock help if needed, the comfort of being around people your own age, and not having to live in a large (and maybe unmanageable) private home where you may be isolated by mobility issues.
    PS: I'm not a healthcare worker and I don't have medical training. I need a better phrase for "my patients," but I don't know what else to call them. Any ideas?

  2. PJ Minnesota, your observations are accurate. Sometimes aging alone or with others at the family home is not the best solution. Each person's quality of life is unique for their circumstances.

    About the phrase "my patients," I think it's fine when referring to your volunteer relationship with them. You can also use "friend" or ask them what they want you to call them. Otherwise, they are usually called "residents." The main phrase is your "being there." That's what they appreciate the most about you.

    P.S. The photos at your website are beautiful.

  3. PJ, MinnesotaMarch 19, 2012

    I like "friends," too, as a descriptive word, but until I get to know them, I always feel awkward. Thank you for visiting my blog. I'd like to do a hospice entry soon. One of your "questions" in your latest entry is about hospice work being depressing. It really is not. That's something I'd want to write about, too. I enjoy the residents and I miss them when they're gone, but I rarely feel depressed over it. (Still fairly new at this.) I hope that if I end up in bed awaiting death, someone will come and talk to me, or simply hold my hand.

  4. Writing a blog post about hospice volunteering is a great idea. When it comes to giving service, it's all win-win with both parties benefittng from the experience if they are open to doing that.

    1. Hello,

      Lots of good information in your posting. Assisted living facilities can range in size from a small residential house for one resident up to very large facilities providing services to hundreds of residents. Thanks a lot....