Makingthe Case for Hospice to Family Healthcare Decision Makers

By Transcend Strategy Group

  Posted January 19, 2019

A strong promoter oradvocate will tell you that a major key to convincing consumers to try anyproduct or service is the ability to overcome objections. And, wow, do manypeople have objections to hospice care – especially when it comes to theirloved ones!

Many of those objectionsare emotional, making them even more powerful. And while emotions can bechallenging to change, perhaps you can get to the root of the emotions throughfacts presented with compassion.

For example, let’s take alook at two common objections to hospice care and how data accompanied by avery human discussion may help change family members’ perceptions:

1.    My loved one isn’t ready forhospice. How many times have you heard thisobjection or some version of it? When a family member says this, first try todetermine if they mean their loved one isn’t ready medically (Aunt Margaretisn’t really dying yet) or emotionally (we don’t want Aunt Margaret to thinkwe’re giving up) – or both. If the family member thinks their loved one isn’t“ready” physically because they aren’t on the brink of death, educate or remindthem that hospice care is for people who still have months to live. Point outthat nearly half (48 percent) of hospice patients received benefits of hospicecare for only 14 days or less when they could have beenreceiving expert care and support for months longer. Use your own family surveyresults to show that many families say they wish they would have gotten hospiceinvolved sooner. If the issue is more emotional, you could point to studies byHarvard Medical School and University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine(among others) that show hospice care improves quality of life for patients andreduces stress for their family members. Discuss how hospice care isn’t “givingup” at all – it’s actively providing a specialized kind of care that supportspatients in living their remaining life more fully. Let families know that aloved one can try hospice care with consent from their doctor, and if theirloved one still feels they’re “not ready,” they can discontinue the carewhenever they wish.


2.    Hospice will cause my loved oneto die sooner. This feeling can berelated to the notion that hospice means “giving up,” and without “hope” theirloved one will just let go and slip away. Another unfortunate misperception isthat hospice freely administers painkillers that may kill more than the pain.Factually, this myth is easy to dispel. Multiple studies, including thosereported by Duke University, Mount Sinai Hospital, New England Journal ofMedicine and Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, show that hospicepatients live an average of 20 to 60 days longer than patients receivingstandard care. This pattern holds true across a wide range of diagnoses. Emotionally,explain how hospice keeps symptoms under control, reduces stress for thepatient and redefines hope – to spend more time with family, attend thatspecial wedding or achieve other meaningful goals. Positive facts, explainedwith genuine empathy, may go a long way to make the case for families acceptinghospice care, and engaging with your services sooner.