Being a person that works in the hospice industry, it is easy to become consumed with all things hospice. We know so much about how hospice works, who provides care, who pays for care, and what our options are when our time inevitably comes.
But what about everyone else?
SONO got curious and went to the streets to find out exactly how much people know about hospice.
The questions we asked were simple, and the answers we collected are not at all what you would expect. We asked random people between the ages of 18 - 40 ten questions. Here are the questions that we asked people on the streets of Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, and California.
1. Have you ever heard of hospice?
96% of the people that we approached HAD heard of hospice.
2. If you have heard of hospice care, what have you heard?
We received a wide variety of answers for this question:
“Helps people that have 6 months to live by getting them nurses and medicine”
“When a family gets to a point where the family can no longer do anything for their loved one, hospice comes in and takes care of the family and the dying”
“It’s for dying people”
“They provide counseling and other stuff as well as medicine”
“Great care on the last days of life”
“Old people go there to die. There is no hope for them, basically”
“It is a place where people are made comfortable”
“It is for people in the last stages of life”
“Last place you go before death”
All of these answers that we received about hospice were more or less correct. You will notice that some people view hospice as a “place” where people go when they are dying. Some people view hospice as a type of “care”.
3. Have you ever heard of Palliative Care?
Only 16% percent of the people that we interviewed had heard of palliative care.
This is interesting because 96% of the people we interviewed had heard of hospice care. They were unaware, however, that hospice care is palliative care.
4. If you have heard of palliative care, what have you heard?
We received multiple answers for this question:
“It is the same as hospice. It is just called 'palliative' by some people”
“It is for really sick people”
“It is useful for sick people but before they get too sick”
“Palliative care improves someone’s living conditions”
Palliative care is basically to make people more comfortable”
All of these answer are more or less correct, but we expected more people to make the connection between hospice and palliative care. For whatever reason the two are not associated together in the public mind.
5. Who is eligible for hospice?
31% said people who are terminally ill
28% said old/sick people
7% said anyone covered by insurance
17% said they had no idea
17% said everyone is eligible
It was interesting to see the different answers that we received with this question. Only 31% of the people we asked actually stated that an individual had to be terminally ill to be eligible for hospice care. Almost 33% of the population we surveyed thought that hospice care is exclusively for the elderly. Of the 96% of people that have heard of hospice care, 17% of them had absolutely no idea who was eligible for hospice care.
6. In hospice, who is the primary caregiver?
41% said that a nurse is the primary caregiver
27% said that the family doctor is the primary caregiver
17% said that the family members are the primary caregivers
15% said that they did not know
We chose to ask this question because we wanted to see what society would guess as to whom would be a hospice patient’s primary caregiver. It was a little bit surprising that 41% said that a nurse is the primary caregiver and only 17% believed it was a family member.
7. Who pays for hospice?
37% said that the government pays for hospice care
33% said that the patient and the family pay for hospice care
10% said that they have no idea
16% said that the patient’s insurance pays for hospice care
3% said that the hospital pays for hospice care
Only one-third of the population that we interviewed said that the government pays for hospice. We were happy to see that this many people were aware that hospice is paid for by the government but we definitely need to get that number up in the future. Everyone should know that hospice is an option and that the family does not have to pay for it.
8. Where does hospice care take place?
100% of the people that have heard of hospice said that hospice care took place at home or in a facility.
Regardless of how little society knows about hospice, they do seem to know that hospice is associated with home. Great job hospice world, and great job society for knowing!
9. Would you ever consider hospice?
87% said "Yes"
10% said they were unsure
3% said "No"
The people that were unsure seemed fearful of answering the question because it caused them to think about their own death. For the most part, people said that they would consider hospice when their time came.
10. Would you rather die in a hospital or at home?
83% said they would rather die at home
10% said they would rather in a hospital
7% they said neither
We were not surprised that 83% of the people we interviewed stated that they would choose to die at home rather than in a hospital. At home, a person has freedom and comfort that a hospital can’t always provide.
To sum up, the society we live in could use a little more education about hospice and palliative care. It is our duty as hospice professionals to change the way the world sees hospice. It should be common knowledge that hospice does not cost the patient anything. Instead, 33% of society believes that the patient and the family have to pay for hospice care. There is no reason why palliative care should be a topic that someone has never heard of. Instead, only 16% of society had every heard of palliative care. It should be common knowledge that hospice is not a place but a type of quality care built specifically for a patient and their family.
- The SONO Team