Housecall Providers Add Palliative Care Service

This new service meets the needs of patients who don’t qualify for hospice.

Housecall Providers, which provides in-home care to vulnerable people in the community, has expanded its services to include palliative care for those who need extra support but might not qualify for hospice.

Palliative care focuses on managing pain and discomfort while relieving symptoms that may cause problems. HouseCall Providers has a team of providers who help patients with pain management, understanding medications and even offer spiritual support.

While seriously ill patients might need a lot of support, hospice care requires criteria that some patients might not meet, such as having a six month prognosis to live, said Mary Sayre, RN, primary care program director.

“There’s kind of this in between time when many of our patients are not sick enough to be on hospice, yet they’re having areas where they do have that increased need for support,” she said.

But when it comes to funding, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not provide a benefit for palliative care, said Terri Hobbs, executive director. Her organization is in discussions with insurance companies to support this new program.

“I think there’s a lot of movement and recognition that’s coming that, ‘wow, this is the way we need to be caring for this population that’s seriously ill,’” she said.

After launching the program last month, Housecall Providers has about 10 patients using palliative care.

Its team includes a nurse, social workers and a chaplain or spiritual care provider and works to help people not quite ready for hospice as well as those who may have graduated off hospice and need support transitioning, Hobbs said.

Coming off hospice can be a difficult transition for some patients. “Having team to fill that gap is really, really important,” she said of palliative care.

The team also coordinates the patient’s care, and keeps the family and any specialist apprised of their needs.

“It’s just a team approach to make sure that everyone’s talking to each other,” Hobbs said. Everything starts with the primary care provider who identifies patients who in need of palliative care.

Seriously ill patients often have multiple chronic conditions and tend to see many specialists.

“If people are left out of the loop it can get very confusing during that time,” she said.

Shelby can be reached at [email protected].

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