By Lauren Gunther for Hospice of Santa Barbara | Published on 04.14.2015 4:41 p.m.
Hospice of Santa Barbara, a nonprofit organization that provides free compassionate care to people within the community experiencing terminal illness or the loss of a loved one, is experiencing a pronounced increase in patient admissions.
Since a program restructuring and launch in July of last year, more than 115 new patients have been admitted into Hospice of Santa Barbara’s Patient Care Services — accounting for 18 percent average month-over-month growth for the nine-month period.
To provide more streamlined services to its patients and their loved ones, Hospice of Santa Barbara restructured its programs to create a “continuum of care” in which patients can receive comprehensive care from the time they are diagnosed and move interchangeably among programs depending on what services they need at the moment.
Its new Patient Care Services is now opened up to four levels of care: Care Management (for the newly diagnosed patient who may recover from their illness); Palliative Care Management (for either a newly diagnosed patient or a patient in active treatment who is not expected to recover from their illness); Anticipatory Grief (for the loved ones and/or caregivers of a patient living with life threatening illness); and Bereavement Care Management (for the surviving loved one after the death of a patient).
Since its restructure, Hospice of Santa Barbara has had a total of 1,868 face-to-face visits with new patients in need of care management (880 visits), spiritual care (511 visits), patient care volunteers (374), and spiritual companions (103 visits). The estimated value of services provided to patients free of charge totals approximately $273,848.
David Selberg, CEO/president of Hospice of Santa Barbara, attributes the organization’s substantial growth to its increased community outreach and education to other human services agencies and the medical community.
“In creating more access points for patients, including through our partners,” he said, “we have been able to reach more people who need our assistance.”
In addition to community outreach and education, much of Hospice of Santa Barbara’s growth can be attributed to its new approach to creating comprehensive patient care. As part of the restructuring, Hospice of Santa Barbara extended the reach of patients it could serve by including those who are newly diagnosed and may likely recover.
Additionally, Hospice of Santa Barbara has now added anticipatory grief care for the family and/or caregiver of those experiencing life-threatening illness. While the organization had previously offered care to family members of Hospice of Santa Barbara patients, they now have interventions specifically for families and caregivers. Moreover, surviving family members, spouses, or caregivers are able to continue receiving care following the death of a loved one, including bereavement counseling and practical assistance.
For each case, 100 percent of patients and families were provided education and access to advance directives and advance care planning, increasing open and thoughtful end-of-life care discussions. Additionally, 100 percent of cases had an individualized interdisciplinary care plan which included short and long term plans and connection to needed community resources.
For Care Management and Bereavement Care Management patients, stronger physician and patient communication resulted, as each care manager/social worker is responsible for maintaining regular contact with the patient’s physician(s). The supportive and seamless care provided by Patient Care Services has decreased hospitalizations and decreased the drain on the community medical resources. Only 16 Patient Care Services patients were hospitalized since July. Each of these hospitalizations were related to necessary medical treatments that could not be performed in the home environment.
Hospice of Santa Barbara is a nonprofit organization that “volunteers” its free professional counseling and care management services to children and adults who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness, or grieving the death of a loved one. Hospice of Santa Barbara is also present on area school campuses to work with children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call 805.563.8820 or click here. Find Hospice of Santa Barbara on Facebook and Twitter.
— Lauren Gunther is a publicist representing Hospice of Santa Barbara.