Hospices are usually strong partners to their nursing home collaborators. Nevertheless, there are sometimes inter-organizational challenges like staff conflicts about planned care or their respective roles. SNF-hospice collaboration can be strengthened with new strategies for better collaboration between the two parties.
In a study by Susan C. Miller, A Model for Successful Nursing Home–Hospice Partnerships found that when nursing home and hospice collaborators were philosophically and otherwise aligned, (i.e., they have similar missions and also understood their differing approaches to care), then administrators also showed openness and support for the collaboration.
The study also found:
“Hospices developed infrastructures to correspond to the uniqueness and complexity of the nursing home environment. For example, they hired nurses with nursing home backgrounds, created teams dedicated to nursing home care, and trained hospice staff in problem-solving and conflict resolution. Care collaboration processes focused on the importance of two-way communication by actively soliciting and sharing information with nursing home staff and responding to nursing home staff and administrators’ concerns.”
The study concluded that while collaborators were organizationally aligned, it was important for the success of the collaboration for the hospice leaders’ to acknowledge that palliative care provision in nursing homes is as complex for each patient as it is unique. Furthermore, the prevalent partnership model was the result of strategic efforts by leaders with the aim to match their staffing to the nursing home environment along with ensuring communication and problem solving skills.
This helps build a stronger relationship between SNF and hospice. However, there are definitely more steps that can be taken to increase the value and strength of collaboration between hospice and SNF.
Maximizing The Hospice “Value Add”
It is important to let hospice aides become more active in taking care of a resident. They are often thought of simply offering companionship to residents and are sometimes not allowed to do any other type of care because of the administrator’s license concerns. Hospice aides get specialized training and are not really meant to simply be ‘sitters’. In order to enable the aides to perform the full extent of their training, nursing homes have to be educated, and then there is a need to carefully define the aide role clearly. Nursing homes may be skeptical, but the integration of these workers into the daily caregiving of the nursing home can be very positive.
Role definition is an important process and can have a profound effect. The hospice aide is definitely a ‘value-add’ and not a replacement for a certified nursing assistant. It is crucial to ensure that this is how the SNF sees it. The nursing home workers still need to execute their plan of care while the hospice aide can offer additional support like a massage or maybe more frequent bathing. Yes, there might be some gray areas that hospice aides should not be picking up certified nurses’ slack. It should not be a ‘you bathe, because I don’t have time” kind of situation.
Accommodating Concerned SNF Nurses
It is quite natural that SNF caregivers may not understand or even resent the appearance of a hospice worker in the facility. In many cases, nurses and aides at the facility care for a resident for years, and they feel that they are capable and called to provide end-of-life care as well. How can hospice staff and SNF staff members work well together? Here are some suggestions.
One way is to focus on and highlight the hospice worker’s special expertise in pain management. Managers can point out data from Brown University’s Susan Miller which shows that hospice offers “state of the art pain intervention”. SNF nurses can appreciate that they don’t have such an exclusive focus on palliation and this may improve their appreciation of hospice professionals.
Another way is to focus on the family. This can be a powerful opportunity. An administrator can communicate that the hospice worker is there to provide additional peace of mind for family members and because the hospice also offers extensive bereavement support for the family. This might take the shape of a support group or memorial service. Hospices also may help nursing home workers themselves process the loss of a beloved resident.
Knowing Some Nuances for Hospice Working at SNFs Vs. Patients' Homes
Many people think of hospice as a type of at-home care. This also goes for hospice workers. Some hospice nurses and workers get into this kind of care expecting that they would be in people’s homes and they may not be very comfortable going into skilled nursing facilities.
Part of this hesitation may be because hospice caregivers can get a huge amount of insight into a person’s values, interests, priorities, and even their care preference from the home they have created. In a SNF, the hospice worker will not have such a wealth of information. A nursing home aide that is sensitive to this issue can help fill in the blanks by sharing insights and stories as well as important details about the individual.
That said, many hospice caregivers actually excel and perform better in the SNF environment. This is one of the reasons why some hospice providers may have dedicated SNF staff who are separate from at-home caregivers.
Nursing homes need to learn how their hospice partners operate if they want to collaborate better. It might help for triage purposes too. For example, a hospice worker has a caseload of mixed home and SNF patients and he gets a couple of late-night calls for assistance. The workers may go to a home first thinking that the SNF patient has healthcare professionals at hand. However, the patient at home may have highly capable family members giving constant care while the nursing home might be short of staff to attend to many situations simultaneously. Communicating such facts on the ground can help a hospice worker prioritize more effectively. This will also strengthen their collaboration.
How Hucu is Helping SNFs & Hospice Team get and Stay Aligned
Hospice workers and SNF staff have to communicate every day even multiple times of the day while caring for a resident. Thanks to the advancing telehealth, there are a lot of communication tools that can help have a very efficient collaboration arrangement in place. One such application is Hucu. Hucu is a HIPAA compliant, free text messaging application. The best part about Hucu is that healthcare professionals can install it on their smartphones and can also access the Hucu on their computers. This allows for ultimate flexibility because one can access the message anytime, anywhere, any device.
Apart from all those benefits, hospice providers also use Hucu to connect social work, nursing, and spiritual support teams with all network members from primary care physicians to hospitalists, SNFs, and home health professionals while keeping family members up to date on patient status. Here is how hospice providers use Hucu.The best part about Hucu is that healthcare professionals can install it on their smartphones and can also access the Hucu on their computers. This allows for ultimate flexibility because one can access the message anytime, anywhere, any device
Want to streamline your communication and collaboration between SNF and Hospice?
Connecting Care Team and Families
Hucu.ai communication brings Hospice Coordinators, Providers, Patients and Families together by
- Equipping hospice coordinators with the right Communication Tool to connect all parties involved in the care.
- Reducing delays in Communication with easy messaging and automatic push notifications.
- Replacing traditional communication methods such as fax, email, text, phone, voicemail, etc. with a single powerful tool – Hucu.ai.
- Centralizing all communication with 1 to 1 direct messaging, many to many, and patient-centered messaging.
- Making availability easier by showing custom user messages and status like, “available”, “busy”, and “away” along with “read receipts”.
- Managing the communication process by and effectively reducing reliance on phone answering services, phone tag, and missed connections.
To know how Hucu helps hardwire strong partnerships for more referrals; improve operations and increase family satisfaction; identity, engage and retain distributed teams, read here.
Partnering with a hospice might not be very easy but following these tips can make the collaboration a lot easier.
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