At RTA Hospice and Palliative Care, the three biggest areas of progress over the last year, according to Director Lorna Hansen, are:
- The expanded role hospice is taking in the community as a liaison between community health resources.
- The move from manual to computer charting.
- The perception of families toward the care their loved one receives while a hospice patient.
"We have had a lot of people call and say, I don't need hospice, but where can I get help for my problem?" Hansen said.
An increase in the number of patients the facility served resulted in an increase in staff and volunteers, and fine tuning some areas of training.
"Our lead chaplain has taken on the role of working with the local churches far more than we had in the past," Hansen said. "He has also become an expert in ethics and end of life issues."
In addition to training more volunteers, RTA Hospice and Palliative Care sponsored a free panel discussion on Advance Care Planning from legal, emotional, spiritual and medical perspectives. Hospice also offered screenings at, and contributed to, sponsorship of The Women's Wellness Forum and The Health and Care Fair.
Five weeks after a patient is discharged from hospice their family is sent a satisfaction survey. According to Hansen, returned 2005 surveys show an improvement in care.
"We, of course, want to reach perfection," she said.
The improvement is partially due to increased staff training and the fine tuning of RTA Hospice and Palliative Care's four Self Managed Care Teams.
Each team, comprised of a nurse, a CNA, a social worker and a pastor, are responsible for the care of a certain number of patients rather than a patient seeing different service providers from one visit to the next.
"The move from manual patient charting to computer charting has been a challenge to the staff, but they have jumped those hurdles with a great deal of grace, " Hansen said.
Computer charting adds to the continuity of patient care by making it easier for a team member to access the specific notes they need to see. The goal is to have more one-on-one human contact with the patient, she said.