Camp Brave Heart/Hospice Austin

Hospice Austin is one of many local hospice organizations across the country offering special programs for children and young people in grief.  In past years, I have had the privilege of being a volunteer and counselor for Camp Brave Heart, and I highly recommend these types of programs.  Following times of grief, children and young people need opportunities to laugh again in safe and secure settings.  Such is the mission of Camp Brave Heart.

For 2009, Camp Brave Heart  will be offered from August 3-5, 2009 at the John Knox Ranch near Wimberley, Texas.  Young campers between the ages of six and 17 can choose from many activities, including swimming, hiking, crafts, enjoying canoe rides, and a ropes course for some.  The entire camp is free.  For more information, call 512/342-4700 or visit the Hospice Austin website to obtain an application.

Here’s to moments of laughter, hope and promise for people of all ages going through grief.  Blessings, Melody

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New Alliance Launched To Address Urgent Palliative Care Needs

Just recently the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) launched a new global action network designed to focus exclusively on hospice and palliative care development worldwide. The full press announcement can be found here .

More than 100 million people and their families worldwide need palliative care and support each year; however, it is estimated that only seven percent actually receive it, according to the release.

Dr. Cynthia Goh, co-chair of the WPCA, from the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network, noted, “Only 15 percent of the world’s countries have hospice and palliative care that is integrated with general health care, so the formation of the WPCA is tremendously positive step forward in helping to meet an overwhelming need.”

The Web site for the newly formed group is here.

Some definitions …

In talking with people across the country about end-of-life care issues, oftentimes I am asked about definitions of some of the most widely-used terms in this arena of health care, including palliative care and hospice.  ‘What’s the difference?’, people ask.

Here’s a brief reflection:  The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)(www.nhpco.org) defines palliative care as: “treatment that enhances comfort and improves the quality of an individual’s life during the last phase of life.”  One of the key distinctions between palliative care and hospice is that a standard hospice benefit under Medicare applies when a patient’s physician and the hospice medical director certify that a patient has a life expectancy of six (6) months or less, based on the ‘normal’ progression of the disease.  As representatives of Hospice Austin describe, while all hospice care is considered a part of palliative care, not all palliative care is hospice care. 

…Just some definitional food for thought which might be helpful as we think about end-of-life care times we all face.

Hospice Care Win

The nation’s hospice community claimed a significant win last month after President Barack Obama signed a bill (H.R. 1 – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) into law that includes a one-year moratorium on cuts in Medicare funding for the more than 4,700 hospice programs nationwide. The action ensures that access to quality and compassionate end-of-life care will be maintained for the more than 1.4 million patients and their family caregivers who seek hospice each year.

Over the past year, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the Alliance for Care at the End of Life, and hospice advocates from across the country have been working to overturn a 2008 regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which eliminates a key component of the Medicare hospice reimbursement formula known as the budget neutrality adjustment factor (BNAF).

For the full press release on this win go here.