We Honor Veterans Celebrates 5 Years!

NHPCO’s We Honor Veterans program is celebrating its five year anniversary! Is your hospice a We Honor Veterans Partner? Thank you so much for your support! Are you planning anything for the anniversary? HAN will be going to the Hill with We Honor Veterans and presenting a briefing to Congress on the great work this program is doing. The briefing will be on October 22, 2015, at noon in the Congressional Visitors Center. Email us if you are interested in attending, but seating is limited.


Unfamiliar with the We Honor Veterans program? Below is the text of the press release announcing the five year anniversary, but check out their website for information on joining the program!

For Immediate Release:
October 6, 2015Organizations Across the Country Dedicated to Our Nation’s Veterans
Facing Serious Illness

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s We Honor Veterans program is celebrating its five year anniversary; NHPCO renews its partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(Alexandria, VA) – Of all the Americans who will die this year, one in four will be a Veteran.  Five years ago, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veteran Affairs launched We Honor Veterans to address the growing need for Veteran-centered care as our servicemen and servicewomen age and need access to hospice and palliative care.  This highly successful initiative will continue on as NHPCO has been awarded a two-year contract with the VA to further develop and expand the WHV program.  Today, thousands of hospice and community-based healthcare organizations across the United States are committed to understanding and addressing the unique needs of Veterans with advanced illness as WHV partners.

To commemorate the program’s five year anniversary, a special celebratory event will take place on Wednesday, October 14th, at NHPCO’s 16th Clinical Team Conference and Pediatric Intensive in Grapevine, Texas.  At the celebration, a national ‘Award of Excellence’ will be presented to one of WHV’s outstanding partners.  The award recognizes the extraordinary investment, commitment, and achievement of a hospice organization that is providing quality end-of-life care to Veterans and their families.

Since its inception, WHV has successfully grown to include the involvement of over half of the hospice community nationwide, the fastest growing program in the history of NHPCO. It now extends its efforts to include non-hospice community health care providers.  WHV provides education, resources, and technical assistance to educate hospice and other health care organizations caring for veterans whose military service, combat experience, or other traumatic events may resurface or play a pivotal role in their end-of-life experience.

“It begins with ‘Are you a Veteran?’ and builds on this with knowing what to do when the answer is ‘yes’,” says Dr. Scott Shreve, National Program Director, Hospice and Palliative Care, Department of Veterans Affairs.  “Through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ collaboration with NHPCO, seriously ill Veterans in and outside VA are being thanked for their service and receiving care from teams trained to deal with Veteran-specific issues because of We Honor Veterans.”

“We are proud of the tremendous growth and success of We Honor Veterans because it reflects the commitment our hospice and other partners have to providing quality end-of-life care to our nation’s Veterans,” says NHPCO President and CEO J. Donald Schumacher. “It is an honor to work closely with the VA and our partners to ensure that the men and women, who have given so selflessly, receive the support and compassionate care they deserve.”

The WHV program was recognized for its accomplishments in supporting Veterans by the American Society of Association Executives with a 2015 Power of A Summit Award.  The Power of A Summit Awards are ASAE’s highest honor for associations.

To learn more about We Honor Veterans and to support this important work via a secure online donation, please visit WeHonorVeterans.org.


Rep. Rod Blum (IA-01): “You’re doing God’s work”

Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) recently visited the Dennis & Donna Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy in Hiawatha, IA. Not only was it a successful visit, but it was written up in the local paper, too!

Rep. Rod Blum, IA-01
Rep. Rod Blum, IA-01

Rep. Blum expressed his support for hospice and relayed his personal experience with hospice: his mother Celeste was a hospice patient before her passing in 2014.

Blum also indicated his support for Medicare reimbursement for physician-patient end-of-life discussions and allowing nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to play a larger role in hospice services.

This is a FABULOUS example of how to host a site visit, engage your legislator on the issues, and get the word out via local press coverage! Kudos to Mercy Medical Center, House of Mercy, and Rep. Blum!

Want to host a visit as successful this? Check out our grassroots tools!



Unequal Access to Palliative Care in US Hospitals

A new study published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine reports  that while 90% of hospitals across the U.S. with 300 beds or more have palliative care programs, only 56% of smaller hospitals offer these services.

“This report holds both good news and bad. The good news is the inexorable improvement in access to palliative care. The bad news is that this scientifically proven best care is not available to all people in all hospitals,”

says Charles F. von Gunten, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Palliative Medicine and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Ohio University. The Journal of Palliative Medicine is the official journal of the Center to Advance Palliative Care(CAPC) and an official journal of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

With World Hospice and Palliative Care Day around the corner (SATURDAY!), and National Hospice and Palliative Care Month coming up in November, what can we as hospice advocates do to promote the accessibility and expansion of palliative care programs? Typically I tell you all to write your legislators, but perhaps we should be writing to our local newspapers and local hospitals. Like I said in yesterday’s post, empowering patients and families to tell their stories is incredibly important in promoting hospice and palliative care programs. After all, hospice came into being in the United States community-by-community. Before there was ever a Medicare Hospice Benefit, there were simply people who identified ways to alleviate pain and suffering in their communities. Shouldn’t we think the same way about palliative care access? What can you do in your town? Try writing a letter to the editor about this important issue, and include some stories (without divulging personal details) that can help people relate to the importance of quality hospice and palliative care. Use social media this weekend, and all of November, to advocate for these important issues.

Want to know more about how to help develop palliative care programs? NHPCO offers many resources to our member hospices and those interested specifically in palliative care membership. Click here to learn more.

Do you have an idea to promote hospice and palliative care? Did you write a letter to the editor and get it published? Let us know in the comments!



Helping Families tell their Stories

I wanted to share with you all a lovely example of how the family of a hospice patient can share their experience with others. I came across this Letter to the Editor (thank you, Twitter) written by the daughter of a lady who was recently under the care of Community Hospice in Modesto, CA. She writes:

The caring, knowledgeable folks at Community Hospice made it possible for me to bring my mother home from the hospital to spend her final weeks with her family. My mother’s experienced team included a registered nurse, a dedicated aide and a social worker. This team ensured that mom was comfortable and had everything she needed to transition peacefully. They made sure I knew what to expect, how to handle difficult situations and had access to available support systems. Community Hospice’s 24 hour call-center provided a trained team member to answer questions, offer solutions and advise me through crises.

While not every family will want to take public action after their hospice experience, it is important that we empower them to do so. Many people feel it is cathartic and helps with the bereavement process to take tangible actions such as writing a letter to the editor about their experience. Not only is it beneficial for the family, but as we have indicated before, hearing about others’ positive experiences is incredibly important when it comes to advocating for hospice and palliative care. Personal stories help people work through any misconceptions or misgivings they may have, and are especially important when advocating to legislators.

Does your hospice empower patients and families to speak out about their experiences? How can we as a community do this better? Let us know in the comments!

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is Oct. 10


So we are a month away from National Hospice/Palliative Care Month (November), but World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is actually next Saturday, October 10! The theme this year is Hidden Lives, Hidden Patients. From the World Hospice and Palliative Care Association: “This year’s theme will focus on the patients living in unique conditions that often struggle with access to palliative care including children, LGBT individuals, HIV prisoners, soldiers and those living in rural settings.” The WHPCA is asking people to join in celebrations and education sessions around the world by registering their WHPC Day Event online.

This is also great day to do some in-district advocacy! Are you having an event for World Hospice and Palliative Care Day? Invite your Members of Congress! Write a letter to the editor about it! Raise awareness about it on social media! The hashtag for the day for promotion on Twitter is #WHPCDAY15. You can follow @WHPCA and @WorldHospiceDay for updates.

We have created some social media images for you. Feel free to use and share to support World Hospice and Palliative Care Day!Because everyone deserves to have their wishes heard at the End of Life


world access