About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
What is the top challenge facing in-home care in your city, and what is your proposed solution?
Essay response by Cavya Chandra, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
In the medical field, a patient is most commonly defined as someone who receives medical care. However as an adjective, patient is defined as “bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation or annoyance with calmness.” I find it curious and saddening that there is a clear difference in the meanings between the noun the adjective form of the word. Despite their physical ailments, I believe hospice patients host resilient and irrepressible spirits.
Unfortunately, I have noticed that patience is something that is rapidly declining in hospice care. Hospice care is usually reserved for those suffering from terminal illnesses. Many times the patients can’t move, speak, or even eat by themselves. This period of time is not only difficult for the patients, but also stressful for family members and caregivers. Too often have I seen patients forced to eat, urinate, and sleep based on the convenience of others. Too often have I seen patient’s requests for simple comforts, like opening the blinds or turning on the television, ignored in the hustle and bustle of managed care.
Although it may seem straightforward to argue that caregivers are responsible for the impatience exhibited in hospice care, I do not believe they are to blame. Staffing shortages cause caregivers to become overworked and overstressed. Poor compensation can lead to job dissatisfaction and low retention rates. In addition, the high turnover rates in hospice care make it difficult for a patient to bond with their caregivers. All these factors contribute to the dystopian world that patient’s are forced to live in towards the end of their life.
What then, is the remedy?
In 2013, health care costs accounted for 25% of the United States federal spending budget. Despite the enormous amount of money the government is pouring into the healthcare, staff shortages continue to exist and medical costs continue to skyrocket. Although there is not always a simple solution to complex problems, I believe proper allocation of resources would help alleviate some of the problems faced in hospice care. Increasing funding to hospice care allows for increased staffing and proper compensation to caregivers. This in turn may attract even more qualified, motivated, and most importantly, patient caregivers that hospice patients deserve.