The Past, Present, and Future of Palliative Care and Hospice
February 20, 2018
This weekend my teen son and I were discussing time travel, whether it’s possible and if so, when he’d like to visit and why. That conversation stuck in my mind as I began mapping out my work for the week and realized that in this one week I will be focusing on the past, present, and future of palliative care.
Early in my hospice and palliative care career I was fortunate to meet one of the pioneers of hospice in the United States, Florence Wald. She was receiving the Founders Award from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, where I worked at the time. Florence, along with other founders recognized that the hospice movement, which started in England, could provide an alternative to the increased medicalization of end-of-life care. As I read her biography before the awards ceremony I realized that this woman who led the development of the first hospice in the U.S., the Connecticut Hospice, went to the same college as I did.
As a proud alumna of Mount Holyoke College, I enjoy reading about the amazing accomplishments of fellow alums. A few weeks ago, I realized that Mount Holyoke had never written an in-depth profile of Florence and reached out to the Alumnae Association offering to help write a tribute article. As fate would have it, a writer had been assigned to write a feature on yet another alumna who works in this field and I am being interviewed for the article.
The film Pioneers of Hospice is a great way to learn more about Florence and other early founders.
The revised Guidelines reflect the tremendous changes that have occurred in the past five years since the 3rd edition was published. As stated in the Project Overview and Scope, the goal of the 4th edition is “to improve access to quality palliative care for all people with serious illness, regardless of setting, diagnosis, prognosis, or age.”
Anchored in the literature, the Guidelines reflect the current best practices, as identified by our expert writers, Steering Committee members, subject matter experts, and feedback received during a Stakeholder Summit in June 2017. The draft content includes greater emphasis on:
Care coordination and care transitions
Grief and bereavement
Care of those with a longer-term prognosis
Cultural aspects of care
The Guidelines, while based on current best practices identify a path for those interested in developing or expanding palliative care programs to meet needs of patients with a serious illness and their family caregivers.
Scenarios are imagined futures that allow the organization to plan for multiple possibilities. They highlight drivers of change, allowing the organization to prepare for those potential futures in a strategic manner. Scenarios recognize that trends and other factors can combine to create surprising futures. Scenario planning is a disciplined approach to identifying a few key factors, and developing scenarios that enable your organization to prepare for multiple potential futures, rapidly responding if the changes occur.
Scenario planning is a unique way to envision the future of your organization and plan for that future. Rather than relying solely on data, which reflects what has happened in the past, scenario planning instills a disciplined approach to thinking about and working towards the future.
After the NCP Guidelines, 4th edition is published, organizations will have a unique opportunity to reflect upon their vision, mission, and services in the context of the revisions reflected in the final document. The Guidelines can provide a roadmap for improving the care delivered to patients and families, and expanding services to reach new patient populations. Anchoring your organization in the Guidelines while preparing for multiple possibilities allows your organization to meet the needs of those in need of your services today and in the future.