Using Virtual Care to Help Overcome Hospice Providers’ Concerns

Top Concerns for Hospice Providers

Hospice providers’ top concerns focus on being allowed to visit hospice patients in facilities which have restricted access due to the pandemic while continuing to address staffing shortages according to the 2021 Outlook Survey.

Staffing remains the top non-COVID-related challenge to the hospice industry in 2021, selected by nearly 35% of respondents. Nearly 45% of those surveyed ranked restricted access to hospice patients as a top COVID-related concern. Reduced access also impacts the interdisciplinary team from providing in-person support. As a result, chaplains, social workers, home health aides, therapists, (PT, OT, SLP), and trained volunteers are also limited in being able to provide comfort to the patient and their family caregivers.

“[Providers] are hanging on and really doing the best they can, but they will need additional support to do even more… We have a latent crisis where we’re gonna see many more people needing support and not getting it,” Edo Banach, president and CEO of NHPCO, shared with Hospice News. “We need access to more education and training, and we need a national campaign. The need for grief and bereavement support is massive, and this is one of those cases where the need far outstrips the supply.”

Using Virtual Care to Overcome Providers’ Concerns

Given social distancing recommendations, hospice providers have cancelled in-person counseling sessions, meetings with families, support groups, etc., and adjusted their bereavement programs to providing grieving families with virtual care.

With Synzi’s virtual care communication platform, hospice providers help loved ones access convenient and comforting grief counseling:

  • Comfortable Environment for Therapy: Due to the pandemic, family members may not be able to participate in in-person therapy sessions nor feel comfortable leaving their own homes in the immediate aftermath of a loss. Teletherapy enables a family member to receive counseling in the comfort and safety of one’s own home.
  • Convenient Access to Specialists: Family members may be overwhelmed by the logistics during hospice care and after the loss of a loved one. Virtual visits with social workers can help family members prioritize and work through the various details while respecting the need for each individual to grieve and mourn in his or her own way.
  • Compassionate Support from Others: The Hospice Foundation of America recognizes that support groups can offer the support of others who have also experienced loss and understand. By participating in virtual meetings, one may benefit from listening to stories of how others cope with the loss of a loved one.

Moving forward, more hospice providers expect to integrate virtual care into their hospice care and bereavement programs. In fact, all survey respondents indicated they expect some sort of technology change with nearly half (47%) agreeing that investing in telehealth will yield the greatest ROI for their organization in 2021.

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