Moments Hospice has taken to the road to further their mission to educate clinicians and the public about hospice and palliative care. While indoor educational events were suspended during the pandemic, the company acquired a trailer truck to serve as a mobile learning center throughout its three-state footprint.
Hospice providers nationwide are seeking and developing strategies for engaging with patients earlier in the course of their illness, as many patients come into hospice too late to reap the full benefit of those services. One such strategy is to encourage early conversations about health care goals and wishes and to educate the public and referring organizations about the nature of hospice and palliative care.
“Sometimes people just need ‘Hospice 101.’ They want to know what it is and what it is not; they want to know how one can access the benefit and who qualifies,” Moments Vice President Kevin Stock told Hospice News. “But we also do other things. For example, sometimes we’ll partner with somebody in the financial industry such as an estate planner to talk about various insurance options and reimbursements available for aging in place and the options seniors have in terms of Assisted Living placement, Nursing Home placement and Funeral arrangements. The hope is to offer financial peace of mind to Community members.”
Moments is a growing organization with plans for multi-state expansion during 2021 and 2022. The company opened eight de novos during 2020 and has plans to continue its expansion this year in its current geographic areas, as well as move into additional new areas.
The Mobile Education Unit allows attendees to safely social distance in an outdoor environment and enables Moments to transport education materials and complimentary snacks. Moments also uses these events as an opportunity to coordinate food donations for the needy, using the trailer to collect and transport donations to community organizations. Moments collaborates on these charitable drives with long term care company Monarch Healthcare Management, collecting 10,000 pounds of food.
The hospice clinicians, social workers and volunteers that staff the trailer visit community events as well as visit hospitals, nursing homes, veterans groups, and assisted living facilities. During summer 2020 the trailer visited 27 counties within three weeks. They promoted these events via social media and local news outlets.
Educational topics include close to 30 subjects, including details on the nature of hospice and palliative care, dementia care, advance care planning as well as associated financial issues that patients and families need to understand when making end-of-life decisions.
The trailer is currently booked through September, holding events five days each week. Plans are in motion to expand this initiative, including the addition of more trailers and new sound equipment..
“In terms of return on investment (ROI), it creates good brand awareness,” Stock told Hospice News. “At the end of the day, how we looked at our ROI is we were giving back to the community. We already consider it a win based on that.” A general lack of awareness or understanding of the nature of hospice and palliative care has been a significant obstacle to increasing utilization. Early conversations are positively associated with family decisions to limit or withdraw life-sustaining treatments, fewer in-hospital deaths, fewer unplanned hospital admissions, shorter hospital stays, family satisfaction with end-of-life care, and increased odds of receiving strong opioid pain medications in the last 24 hours of life, according to a study in the March 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.
As many as 71% of people in the United States have little to no understanding of what palliative care is, including many clinicians in a position to refer patients to palliative care or hospice, according to A Journal of Palliative Medicine study.
“We’ve had community members come up to us to thank us for giving back to the community, and they have told us that these events were really eye opening,” Stock said. “There is such a negative stigma attached to hospice. We don’t care if they use our service or a different provider. We’re all trying to push for the same thing: It’s hospice awareness.We care about awareness and ensuring that the general public is educated on the amazing benefits hospice has to offer.”