St. Joseph Hospice has found that many terminal patients need the pain and symptom management that hospice can provide, but the patient does not qualify because they have not completed their course of treatment for their illness. Our goal is to offer options to patients and their families as they complete their treatments of radiation, chemotherapy, dialysis, and other aggressive therapies.
This team approach supports you, the physician, by educating patients and their families about their end-of-life options. By making a referral to St. Joseph Hospice, we can provide the information patients and families need to make an informed decision about their options.
If the patient decides to continue aggressive forms of treatment, or if they are not ready to accept hospice services, the patient can be referred to AIM Palliative Home Health and receive services from our Palliative Care Team through a partnership with STAT Home Health. These patients are assigned a hospice trained nurse and CNA to provide services through the Palliative Care Pathway with STAT Home Health. The nurses and social workers will educate patients/families and help them to accept the appropriate end-of-life care with realistic goals for the patient. Most of all, this team approach offers information so families can decide which service may offer the most peace and comfort to the patient.
If and when appropriate, STAT Home Health will obtain an order from the physician to transfer the patient to St. Joseph Hospice. This provides a smooth transition from home health to hospice using the same nurse and CNA that the patients have grown to know and trust.
This team approach allows our team to care for the patient in the most appropriate setting, and allows the patient and family to take their time in making some very important end-of–life decisions.
What is the difference between Traditional Home Health and AIM Palliative Home Health?
Traditional home health service is offered to those with brief illness or debilitating circumstances that are not considered terminal. Palliative home health is provided to patients facing terminal illness who wish to continue life extending or curative treatment or need more time to explore options. The AIM team is better prepared to handle the needs of patients facing terminal illness because they are experienced in providing services to palliative care and hospice patients. This team is also available to transition with the patient into hospice care if and when that decision is made. Patients and family members have the comfort in knowing their caregivers will not change.
Because palliative home health combines the medical model of traditional home health and the psycho-social model of hospice, visits are often longer in duration, however the frequency of visits follows the traditional home health model. Although the length of a palliative home health visit is similar to hospice, the visit frequency is much more often in hospice.
Who can benefit from the services of AIM Palliative Home Health?
Anyone with a terminal illness needing time and information to make an informed decision and set goals will benefit, especially:
- Dialysis patients who plan to continue dialysis treatments
- Cancer patients who plan to continue radiation treatments
- Cancer patients who plan to continue chemotherapy treatments
- Advanced heart disease patients who want to explore options
- Advanced COPD patients who want to explore options
What type of healthcare professionals make up the AIM Team?
All members of the AIM Team are trained to provide services to palliative care and hospice patients, so they have a unique understanding of the needs of those facing a terminal illness. Team members include:
- Board Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Physicians
- Registered/Licensed Practical Nurses
- Certified Nursing Assistants
- Social Workers
Though palliative home health visits are less frequent than hospice visits, the patient and family are provided similar services as those received by a hospice patient from the same qualified and compassionate staff.
The Effectiveness of Early Palliative Care in Lung Cancer Patients
In a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, lung cancer patients receiving early palliative care lived 23.3% longer than those who delayed palliative treatment as is currently the standard. Median survival for earlier palliative care patients was 2.7 months longer than those receiving standard care. The study authors hypothesized that “with earlier referral to a hospice program, patients may receive care that results in better management of symptoms, leading to stabilization of their condition and prolonged survival.”
Temel J.S., Greer J.A., Muzinkansky A., et. al. Early Palliative Care for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 2010 August; 363(8):733-42.
The Effectiveness of Palliative Care in CHF Patients
In a 2007 NHCPO article, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, CHF patients receiving hospice care experienced an 81-day survival benefit compared to CHF patients not receiving hospice care. The study authors concluded that “across groups studied, hospice enrollment is not significantly associated with shorter survival, but for certain terminally ill patients, hospice is associated with longer survival times.”
Connor S.R., Fitch K., Pyenson B., Spence C., Iwaski K., et. al. Comparing Hospice and Non-hospice Patient Survival Among Patients Who Die Within a Three-Year Window, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Vol. 33 No. 3, March 2007
*AIM Palliative Home Health is not currently available in our Mississippi offices.