The Lived Experience of Physical Separation for Hospice Patients and Families amid COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many hospice patients were separated from their family members. A recent study featuring PISC Senior Scholar George Demiris, PhD, FACMI, describes the experiences of hospice patients and family caregivers during the onset of the pandemic. The team provides a secondary analysis of a qualitative multi-site clinical trial. In the trial, hospice family caregivers and patients are incorporated into physician care plan reviews and discussions. Results indicate that the physical separation at the start of the pandemic had profound effects on families with loved ones in end-of-life care. All hospice family caregivers and patients reported unmet informational, functional, social, and emotional needs. Moreover, connection strategies employed by some healthcare settings were often inconsistent and ineffective. Should the need to be physically separated arise in the future, the team recommends that “inclusive, innovative connection strategies are needed to ensure that high-quality end-of-life care is provided to hospice patients and their family caregivers when physical presence must be limited.”

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