Palliative care is recognized as an important service for patients with advanced disease. Palliative care helps patients and their family members to openly discuss goals of care and make decisions for care toward the end of life.
Many home health agencies also offer hospice care, although administratively the functions are separate. Home health agencies with a hospice service are in a good position to cross train nurses or have a hospice-trained nurse provide palliative services to a homebound patient as part of a home health team. Full integration of palliative care services, however, requires a commitment on the part of the organization to educate staff and provide medical direction.
In 2011, MaineHealth will engage several home health agencies in exploring how palliative care can be provided to appropriate patients.
Home Health agencies in the initial pilot: