Janice McDermott is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHHPCO). She is also a member of the NH CCC’s Board of Directors and a co-chair of the Quality of Life Task Force.
Palliative care and quality end-of-life care can provide effective symptom management, guidance with treatment options, and aid in emotional and spiritual comfort for patients and their families.
NHHPCO and the Palliation Work Group work together to address objectives in the NH Cancer Plan aimed at educating community members and professional caregivers about the benefits of earlier access to and a better understanding of palliative care. The shared expertise ultimately improves care for state residents who have advanced cancer.
NHHPCO continues to offer full day trainings to registered nurses and licensed nursing assistants to help them prepare for hospice and palliative care certification through a program by the National Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). Courses are taught by HPNA certified trainers that promote clinical skills and sensitivity to emotional and spiritual issues in end-of-life care.
The NHHPCO annual fall conference will be held on November 7 and this year’s theme is “It’s Time for the Conversation.” The conference will focus on the benefits of increasing the comfort level of professionals and family members to discuss the realities of illness and care options for people living with advanced illness. This includes discussions on the benefits of advanced directives and POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). For more information about the conference, visit www.nhhpco.org.
NHHPCO also offers additional educational opportunities such as peer network groups for Hospice Administrators, Palliative Care Administrators, Chaplains, Hospice Bereavement and Volunteer Coordinators, and Palliative Care Clinicians.
The Palliation Work Group recently completed an updated survey of palliative care providers. Early results indicate that many palliative care programs do not address spiritual care, patients and families need more than only verbal information, and staff needs additional training to help increase general awareness. Review of these findings compared to the initial survey results in 2010 will help the Work Group determine improvement in the level of service, visibility of services, and ongoing barriers and challenges to accessing palliative care.
The partnership also developed a toolkit (http://www.nhhpco.org/PalliativeCare.htm) to promote earlier access to palliative care. This was accomplished through a mini-grant from NH CCC.