This afternoon three of the staff from the Prince George’s County office of Capital Caring, part of a Capital Caring’s tri stage program, gave an excellent presentation in the auditorium about both the general concepts of hospice and palliative care, and about the specifics of their program. Particularly exciting were that they seem interested in a long term collaborative relationship with Collington, through which we got to know each other, and would be better able to have integrated caregiving to benefit patients.
Some of the things that I found important about Capital Caring:
- It is committed to improving the quality of life of people who are nearing the end of their lives.
- It is available to assist people with end-of-life care regardless of where they are, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or in a hospital.
- It is a nonprofit. (For the possible implications for quality, see here.)
- It has an inpatient facility that can be used to provide respite care or during the period that people need inpatient care while pain and symptoms are being controlled.
- It a fund that can be used for people whose insurance does not cover the need (this should not be the case for those on Medicare or equivalent.)
- It is able to integrate many treatments once considered as inconsistent with hospice end-of-life care, such as palliative blood transfusions and palliative radiation treatments (for example to shrink a painful or disruptive tumor. Patients are not required to sign a Do Not Resuscitate [DNR] order to be in their hospice care.)
- It seems very enthusiastic about making sure that all patient care, including that provided by a Continuing Care Retirement Community such as Collington, is integrated with hospice care.
- Similarly, it is willing to work with people who are best kept in a regular hospital.
- It’s staff are on call 24/7, and can get needed drugs out in an emergency, even if it means bringing them in from Virginia.
- It has large multi-disciplinary, coordinated teams to help with the sometimes complex needs of end-of-life care, including doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers, grief counselors, volunteers, case managers, certified nursing assistants.
I very much hope that our Health Services Committee, Social Work Department, and management will continue to build on this base so that we all know each other, deal early with the possibilities of hospice (i.e. early in the anticipated last 6 months of life, rather than, as is so often the case, just in a patient’s last few days).
Thanks so much to Denise Bunting, co-chair of the Health Services Committee, for organizing this session, and to Executive Director Altonia Garrett, and her impressive team, for spending time with us.
(Submitted by Richard and Joan Zorza)