Palliative Care: Improving Patient Experience and Quality of Life

By R. Bruce Dalglish of Philadelphia, PA

My name is Bruce Dalglish, and I am the CEO of the Philadelphia area-based corporate headquarters of All Caring Hospice and Alliance Hospice. In today’s blog, I would like to discuss the topic of palliative care.

Palliative care serves the most vulnerable population in our country: these are people who deal with the most complex life-threatening health issues. Palliative care is designed to focus on the patient’s specific needs during the most difficult and challenging time in his or her life. As CEO of a network of hospice centers, I regularly meet with palliative care patients and their families. What I’ve learned over the years is how important it is for patients to feel normal and have the opportunity to enjoy the simple things and experiences of life. These experiences are often the key to easing the suffering and prolonging the lives of palliative care patients.

Understanding the human needs of a patient is what differentiates good palliative care from other forms of healthcare. With this idea in mind, we opened our first All Caring and Alliance Hospice Centers. From our headquarters in greater Philadelphia, to our centers in Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina, our devoted staff strives to deliver an improved patient experience and enhanced quality of life to our patients. Connecting with our patients on a personal level and seeing them as humans with unique histories, feelings and needs is central in our approach to patient care.

From the diagnosis to the end of life, good palliative care works in synergy with what is really important to the patient, taking it one day at a time. Studies show that palliative care patients experience less pain, less depression, require fewer hospitalizations and live at least three to six months longer than patients without palliative care.
Sooner or later everyone has to face the journey to the end of their lives, but palliative care is not about dying – it’s about living. We may not be able to change the final outcome, but we do have the ability to decide how we get there.

About the Author

A resident of Philadelphia, Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
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Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

Hospice Choirs Provide Peace and Comfort to Patients

By R. Bruce Dalglish of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Updated June 25, 2018

Recently, I came across an Associated Press article about a capella groups that volunteer at hospice centers throughout the nation singing for the elderly and terminally ill. With their calming melodies, the choirs offer much needed emotional relief and comforting to the patients and their relatives.

Singing to the terminally ill has been a part of human tradition for millennia, waning in the modern age due to the advent of hospitals. Many people believe that music purges painful feelings, such as stress, fear, anxiety and grief, and allows for positive feelings, such as love and appreciation to take its place. By singing with family and friends, hospice care patients can find piece and comfort during their last days.

The choirs treat every patient differently, selecting their songs and melodies depending on the patient’s preference, religion, and hobbies.

Even though members of these choirs are usually neither classically trained singers, nor are they trained hospice workers, they choose to dedicate their time to uplift and offer patients a little respite.

Establishing emotional connections and connecting with patients on a personal level are extremely important for quality hospice care – which is why initiatives such as hospice choirs are extremely valuable to patients and hospice centers around the nation.

About the Author

A resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

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Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

Palliative and Hospice Care: a Look Ahead

By R. Bruce Dalglish of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Updated 6/25/2018

With over 90 million Americans suffering from serious long-term or chronic illnesses, palliative and hospice care services are bound to play an ever-increasing role in the modern healthcare system.

It is projected that by year 2029, there will be more than 70 million Americans age 65 or older. As our baby boom generation continues to age, the influx of elderly patients will pose a significant challenge for our healthcare system.

Currently, traditional hospitals are not well equipped to provide quality care for those in the final stages of their life. Most hospitals lack the necessary guidelines and training to meet the unique emotional and spiritual needs of the dying.

This is why, along with expanding the existing network of palliative and hospice care centers in the coming years, more specialized training should be provided to strengthen the end-of-life care capabilities of hospitals worldwide.

The new healthcare approach will put a greater emphasis on patients’ physical, social and emotional needs, along with extended support services for their family members. The current perception and awareness about palliative and hospice care is already changing.

As we move forward, the role of dedicated palliative and hospice care centers in the overall patient care experience will continue to increase. What we do now will pave the way for the future of a more efficient, personalized and consumer-centric, healthcare.

About the Author

A resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
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Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

Negative Misperception Prevents Patients from Benefitting from Palliative Care, Research Shows

By R. Bruce Dalglish of Pennsylvania

New research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicates that many patients associate the term “palliative care” with imminent death, which prevents them from even considering this type of care.

Lead study author and head of the division of palliative care at the University Health Network in Toronto Dr. Camilla Zimmermann commented: “Patients and caregivers in our study saw palliative care as being equated with death, loss of hope, dependency, and going into places you never get out of again.”

Indeed, in my own experience as CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice centers, I often meet people who are reluctant to take advantage of the supportive therapies that can dramatically improve their quality of live just because of the negative stigma associated with the term “palliative care.”

The fact is, however, that palliative care has nothing to do with death. On the contrary, the numerous benefits offered by palliative care through pain and other symptom management have been proven to improve the patients’ quality of live, thus increasing chances for recovery. Unlike hospice care, palliative care is recommended throughout the course of an illness, and not only at the end of life.

The recent study highlights an important problem of the common misconception that exists in the media, our healthcare system and people’s minds. To fix it, we should reconsider the way we talk about palliative care with patients. Rather than offering it as a last resort, doctors should rightly position palliative care as a way to continue combatting an illness, while also being able to maintain the highest possible quality of life.

About the Author

A resident of Philadelphia, Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
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Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

What You Need to Know about Hospice Care

By R. Bruce Dalglish of Philadelphia, PA

Updated June 25, 2018

Generally, hospice care is reserved for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have six or less months to live. At this point, patients stop undergoing aggressive therapies, and their health care shifts toward the focus on the quality of life and comfort.

Patients can receive Hospice care at home, at an assisted-living facility or a specialized hospice care center. Rather than administering curative treatment, hospice care is centered on managing pain, controlling symptoms, providing emotional support and assuring a comfortable way of life during a person’s last days. Doctors and nurses are available to hospice care patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and special grief and bereavement counseling is provided to the patients’ families.

The decision on whether to move a loved one into hospice care can be difficult and is often determined by a number of emotional, financial and practical factors. Although you need a doctor’s written approval to qualify for hospice care, it is recommended that families do their research in advance. Since different hospices may function a bit differently, it may be worth to visit several local centers and find a provider that feels right for your family.

Since 2005, Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice have been leading providers of comprehensive competent hospice care in the United States. With corporate headquarters in the Philadelphia suburb of Ambler, PA., All Caring Hospice and Alliance Hospice have conveniently located hospice centers in South Carolina, Georgia and Ohio. Both providers accept most private insurance and are licensed by Medicare and Medicaid.

To learn more about Alliance Hospice, visit: http://alliancehospice.com

To learn more about All Caring Hospice, go to: http://allcaringhospice.com

About the Author

A resident of Philadelphia, Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on TwitterFacebookLinkeIn and Google+.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

How Do Families Afford Non-Health Care Hospice-Related Expenses?

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

In my role as CEO of Alliance Hospice, a frequent question I encounter is – how do families afford to pay for all of the expenses involved during the end-of-life stage? While many families are fortunate enough to be able to handle some of these expenses, many families struggle to pay for expenses that fall outside of the standard health care realm. These expenses typically cover needs that are significant to the patients’ and families’ physical, emotional and spiritual comfort.

In recognition of this important need, the Alliance Hospice Memorial Fund – a 501 c (3) organization, was established with the following mission in mind: “to honor those who have died on hospice…by providing those we continue to serve with a sense of their personal worth.” The donations made to this fund directly assist Alliance Hospice patients and families, and their needs are assessed by the Alliance Hospice Foundation Board along with the Interdisciplinary team involved.

A sad reality is that a sizeable number of terminally ill patients and their families are not financially prepared or equipped to pay for the expenses incurred during the dying process.

To help these families in need during such an emotional time, the Alliance Hospice Memorial Foundation accepts donations to help cover these important expenses including: funeral costs, airfare for loved ones, assistance with rent/mortgage/utility bills, and even fans for people without air conditioning.

For more information about the Alliance Hospice Memorial Fund, please click here.

About the Author
Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

Addressing the Spiritual Needs of Hospice Patients

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

The Alliance Hospice mission is, “is to understand and help guide our patients’ quest for a rewarding quality of life in their final days and to help their circle of family and friends support them in life and grieve for them in death. Alliance pledges to provide expert hospice care for the comfort and dignity of the terminally ill by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We strive to provide individuals facing death and grief expert care that provides a sense of personal worth.”

In our mission, we underscore the need to offer comfort and dignity to those in their end-of-life stage by attending to our patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs. These three areas of needs are very personal for each patient and family that we help, and we do our best to individualize our way of caring to meet these needs accordingly.

However, the notion of addressing spiritual needs is one that involves a deep level of thought. Understanding and assessing the spiritual needs of terminally-ill patients stems from the relationships that hospice staff cultivate and nurture. It is not uncommon for hospice care patients to seek spirituality and religion to help manage their feelings, even if they had not previously been religiously committed or affiliated. Sometimes, spirituality offers a degree of purpose that helps terminally-ill patients cope better during their end-of-life experience.

For patients seeking a deeper spiritual connection, there are hospice chaplains, or even their own religious leaders or clergy that can assist by spending time with them. At Alliance Hospice, we provide “Hospice Spiritual Care Coordinators” who provide non-denominational spiritual support to patients and families, and help with coordinating visits from local clergy if requested. Our hospice care staff help facilitate these needs while exercising a heightened degree of sensitivity to ensure the type of spiritual support that’s being sought.

About the Author 
R. Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions

The Rewarding Feeling of Coordinating Volunteers for Hospice Patients

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

It takes a unique village of high-quality professionals and caring human beings to ensure that Alliance Hospice provides and maintains an excellent level of care. Our patients deserve nothing less, and our dedicated staff are determined to assure that our patients are as comfortable as possible, and feel that they have a rewarding quality of life during their final days.

Jessica Harr, Volunteer Coordinator at Alliance Hospice, exudes that determination in her hands-on work with Alliance Hospice’s volunteers. In her own words, Jessica stated that, “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our service. They are kind generous people that provide love and care to our patients and their family members, as well as helping hands to our hard working staff. Alliance Hospice volunteers are our angels, and I feel truly blessed that it is my job to take care of the volunteers.”

Each and every day, Jessica observes the kindness of her volunteers firsthand. “I have witnessed a caregiver get the chance to go have lunch with her sister and their Red Hat ladies group for the first time in over a year,” described Jessica. “Those sisters came back after an hour and a half giggling like school girls! My volunteers and I looked at each other smiling and asked them why they didn’t stay longer. The wife replied that she didn’t want to take advantage. My volunteer then said that she would stay all day to see them smile and laugh like that. She is one my many volunteers who feels that volunteering is the best job she has ever had.”

This is just one of many examples of the meaningful volunteerism that Jessica helps nurture and foster, leading to a profound impact on our hospice patients. The reward involved in volunteering at Alliance Hospice is immeasurable for all involved – the patient, the family, our staff, and our wonderful volunteers.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

Hospice Volunteers Make a Profound Impact

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

It takes a very special kind of person to commit to volunteering their free time to helping patients, families and caregivers engaged in hospice care. At Alliance Hospice, we have ten very special working volunteers who are devoted to helping family members in need of some relief, and patients that are in need of some comfort and support.

Our volunteers have the opportunity to see 1-5 nursing home patients or in-home patients depending upon their availability, and each patient’s specific needs. The quality time that our volunteers devote is spent sharing stories, listening to stories, reading to patients, providing comfort and support, expressing prayer and devotion, helping with light housekeeping, assisting with writing letters, and relieving caregivers for short periods of time.

We are always looking to welcome new volunteers to our family at Alliance Hospice, and are especially seeking volunteers who can provide the following assistance: massage therapy, hairdressing, lawn care, music therapy, art therapy and pet therapy. Alliance Hospice greatly appreciates our wonderful volunteers and the incredibly meaningful impact they make.

About the Author
Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

Understanding and Navigating Pain Management

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

Understanding and navigating pain management is a core component of hospice care. Indeed, the very philosophy of hospice care subscribes to the belief that people have the right to live as pain-free and comfortable as possible during their end-of-life. A majority of patients and their families/caregivers tend to hope and expect that hospice care teams will be completely devoted to ensuring pain relief.

At Alliance Hospice, an entire team of compassionate experts work closely with families and their loved ones to create and individualize an overall plan of care, integrated with pain management. A medical director oversees the medical plan of care and coordinates the hospice team, with ongoing input from the patient’s original physician focused on the medical aspect of the full course of treatment.

Alliance Hospice nurses provide palliative care with complete devotion, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The nurses’ palliative care is nurturing in nature, committed to pain relief and comfort. In coordination with the patient’s physician, the nurses help determine what the most effective treatments and medications are for each patient to address both pain and symptoms. The nurses also regularly communicate with the patient’s family and caregivers to inform them of ways to help minimize their loved ones’ pain and provide as much loving support as possible.

It’s important to note that from a legal standpoint, hospices are required by federal guidelines to control patients’ pain through every reasonable effort, and many state laws also require hospices to ensure that pain management is prioritized as an integral aspect of hospice care.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

The Value of Grief Counseling

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

Grieving the loss of a loved one as a result of a terminal illness takes time, and is a very personal experience that is different for everyone. As part of hospice care, there is meaningful value in grief counseling.

Experienced grief counselors can help families, caregivers and friends with ways to cope with the passing of a loved one. Indeed, mourning a loved one is an important part of the healing process, and grief counselors provide compassionate support to help people find their way in their own time.

Although mourning over a loved one is a very personal process, many people share common feelings and often find validation of some of their feelings during grief counseling. This type of counseling helps people move through the many phases of grief over a period of time, ultimately tapping into their inner-strength and coping mechanisms nurtured through the counseling sessions and resources.

At Alliance Hospice, grief counseling is offered to patients, family and friends at no charge. These helpful bereavement counseling services are available during the first 13 months following the patient’s death and include ongoing phone support, counseling visits, support groups, mailing and memorial services.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

What Happens to Loved Ones When Primary Caregivers Lose Steam?

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

Taking care of a loved one with a terminal illness is not easy. Most caregivers become so immersed in focusing all of their attention on their loved ones, they frequently neglect their own personal needs eventually leading to burnout.

Burnout can materialize physically, emotionally and psychologically. With limited time to take care of themselves, these wonderfully dedicated caregivers end up losing sleep, eating foods of convenience rather than healthy food choices, not exercising, and simply not taking a moment to rest.

When primary caregivers lose steam, it not only deteriorates their own well-being, but it eventually takes a toll on the very loved ones that they’re caring for, and perhaps their immediate families, households, and jobs.

With an estimated 44 million Americans who act as caregivers for adult family members, there is a growing need for outreach to compassionate hospice care professionals who can help alleviate the pressure of caring for a loved one diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Loved ones often feel as though they are overburdening their caregiver, and are uncertain of how to reach out for the appropriate help that they need to address their physical, emotional and spiritual needs during their end-of-life stage. With hospice care as an option, patients tend to feel that they have gained a network of loving and compassionate support, and no longer have to feel consumed with common guilt of feeling like a burden, and causing their caregivers to lose steam. Hospice care services come in various options that are customized to meet the individual needs of the patient, caregiver and family to help alleviate the tremendous responsibility and emotional exhaustion often linked with caregiver burnout.

About the Author
Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.