Massachusetts-based hospice and palliative care provider Care Dimensions has created a Learning Institute to educate the public, clinicians nationwide, and their own staff about hospice and palliative care.
The organization has provided public education since its inception nearly 40 years ago, but recently decided to formalize their disparate programs under a single brand. Among their goals is bringing more patients into their care earlier in their illness trajectory.
“The goal of the institute is to educate and enrich and empower. We talk to health care professionals and consumers on how to respond to the evolving needs of the seriously ill patients and their families,” Lyn Skarmeas, vice president for provider relations at Care Dimensions, told Hospice News.
Care Dimension’s staff have sometimes seen results in real time. At one community event, a participant approached the presenter and told her, “I think I need hospice.” The elderly woman was soon after assessed and admitted as a patient. Similar events have unfolded several times following a Care Dimensions education program, Mary Crowe, director of professional and community education at Care Dimensions, told Hospice News.
“We have almost 70 programs that we do for professionals and more than 20 programs that we do for community members, tailored to each group’s needs,” Crowe said. “All focus around advanced illness, end-of-life issues, anywhere ranging from taking the mystery out of hospice and palliative care, to how to care for the dying individual.”
Engaging with patients further upstream in the course of their illnesses is a key goal for the hospice community at large. Many patients enter hospice too late for them to receive the full benefits. More than 27% of patients in 2017 were in hospice for seven days or less, with another 12.7% in hospice for less than 14 days, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.
The No. 1 complaint that families report on hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys is that they wish their loved one had entered hospice sooner, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The institute’s offerings are multifaceted and include face-to-face education, community programs, outreach to other health care organizations and referral partners, as well as the use of films, podcasts and online learning.
“We touch a lot of lives, and it’s our reputation that’s out there. We have educational liaisons that are out in the community that are touching nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, physician practices and offering this education. We have a lot of repeat customers,” Skarmeas said. “People who have been on one of our webinars or who have attended our programs in the past have found the benefit of this education and have really put the word out. We want to help people, giving them the words and the tools they need to approach topics such as these.”