Friday, December 16, 2011

I read in the Boston Globe today that some hospice care companies pay employees for referrals.
Hospice care used to be chiefly a charitable cause but has become a huge industry with a base of medicare covered patients that doubled to 1.1 million from 2000 to 2009. It is supposed to be offered for patients who are expected t die within 6 months. According to this article Hospice Care of Kansas gave its salespeople a budget of $500 a month to buy lunches and gifts for doctors and nursing facility managers and staff.
The article presents this as being somewhat unethical. I think that it is unethical to bribe but as far as  services- it all depends on what they are. When my mom was in a nursing home with Alzheimer's disease I was not told about Hospice. I only discovered it when I saw a Rabbi running around and I asked him why he was there.  I applied and my mom was suddenly given a specially trained aide who spent 2 hours a day stimulating her. In addition, the hospice nurse said that my mom no longer needed to have painful blood tests to assess her psychiatric medication. I was thrilled with these services.
What I was not thrilled about was arriving one day and seeing a woman waving her arms above my mother's body while my mom was sleeping. This was during the late stages of the disease when she spent most of her time with her eyes closed and needed to be physically stimulated in order to open her eyes and interact at all. Nobody asked if I wanted Medicare to pay for Reiki (which I admit I don't know much about), but I would have said no.
In the same Boston Globe today I read that President Obama will be raising the pay for home health care employees. This is very important because the people who take care of our loved ones should earn a living wage.
Thank-you President Obama!