Social model hospice homes can change end-of-life care

According to an article written by Dr. Karen Wyatt, a hospice and family physician, there are six reasons why the social model home hospice home is a much-needed solution for end-of-life care. Wyatt, an expert on the topic of end-of-life care, has written a book on the subject: “What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying.”

The following are reasons for the social model home are taken verbatim from a longer article from the Huffington Post.

1. Shortage of family caregivers.

According to a study reported by AARP Public Policy Institute, there will be a severe shortage of family caregivers as the Baby Boom generation ages and faces the end-of-life. While there are currently seven potential family caregivers for every patient, this ratio is expected to drop to 3:1 by 2050.

2. Shortage of paid caregivers.

In addition, a study published in the Health Affairs journal in June indicates that “at least 2.5 million more long-term care workers will be needed to look after older Americans by 2030.”

3. Need for family respite. 

The Institute of Medicine’s 2014 report Dying in America points to a current need for respite and support for family caregivers to help avoid burnout and resulting emergency hospitalizations. Social model hospice homes can provide respite care as well as terminal care, allowing for much-needed rest for exhausted caregivers.

4. Need for home renovation for safety and mobility.

The IOM report “Dying in America” also cites a “lack of publicly-funded programs for retrofitting homes for safety features and wheelchair accessibility. Social model hospice homes are already designed to meet safety and mobility standards and can eliminate the need for expensive renovations to family homes.”

5. Cultural barriers to hospice care.

Some of these barriers include a lack of cultural diversity in hospice staff, mistrust of the healthcare system, and worry about insurance coverage and cost of care. The community-based social model hospice home has the potential to overcome some of these barriers by utilizing volunteers and caregivers from the patient’s own cultural group and neighborhood, by functioning largely outside the health care system, and by eliminating financial concerns through unique funding streams.

6. Reduction in Medicare payments for hospice and home care.

Under the social model of care for the dying, there is no federal or state funding because these homes do not function as medical facilities. In many states, they are licensed under the Department of Social Services rather than the Department of Health. Social model hospice homes rely on foundations and grants, community fundraising, and contributions from individual donors for funding.