Hospice for Patients with Serious Mental Illness

08/23/20 at 02:50 PM

Interesting post from Hospice News Today, 8/22/20.

Improving Hospice Access for Patients with Serious Mental Illness
Hospice News, August 21, 2020
Greater communication and deeper integration of psychiatric-palliative care are avenues for hospice providers seeking to remove barriers to access and improve quality of care for patients with mental illness. Research indicates significant disparities in the end-of-life experience for patients with serious persistent mental illnesses (SPMI), with inadequate collaboration among clinicians and lack of psychiatric-specific care among the contributing factors. ... “Approximately 6% of the population suffers from SPMI that is chronic or recurrent, requires ongoing intensive psychiatric treatment, and significantly impairs functioning,” stated authors in research from the General Hospital Psychiatry journal. “Despite common misassumptions that most individuals with SPMI die prematurely from violence and suicide, the majority of excess mortality is due to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and dementia. Existing data suggests significant disparities in end-of-life care for those living with severe mental illness. Many of the factors leading to this disparity stem from inadequate interaction and inadequate collaboration between psychiatric and palliative care providers and from current care delivery systems that impede interdisciplinary care.” ... “Establishing community-based connections for mental health needs adds an extra layer of expertise that maybe your typical hospice team might not have,” said John Cagle, associate professor at the school of social work at the University of Maryland. “If providers have access to mental health further upstream before someone gets to hospice, if many of the psychiatric services are established and in place ahead of time, then the need becomes less critical and crisis-driven for the patient and their families.” ... A strategy hospice providers can employ to better meet the unique needs of those with serious mental illnesses is fostering a better understanding of mental illness among staff, including social workers who often refer patients and families to these services. Expanding training, education, and engaging with community resources and supportive psychotherapy care are among the additional ways hospices are seeking improvement.

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