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May 13, 2022

We’re clearing up the confusion about using therapies (physical, speech, and occupational) for hospice patients.  It’s one of the confusing issues in hospice - whether therapy modalities can be used in end of life care.  The truth is that PT, ST, and OT can be utilized in hospice.  The goal of these therapies is not rehabilitation or long-term strengthening.  The real goal for each of these therapies is enhancing quality of life, focusing on education of the patient and caregivers, and teaching safe practices for patient care.  Physical therapists can teach safe transfer techniques, good body mechanics, turning and repositioning, and use of mobility assist devices.  Occupational therapists can help with fine motor issues, including education on techniques for managing Activities of Daily Living.  Speech therapists assist with education about communication systems, minimizing choking hazards, and preventing aspiration of foods and liquids. All of these interventions are about keeping the patient safe and enhancing quality of life.  In hospice, ST, OT, and PT are used very sparingly and only when the patient will benefit from visits from these disciplines.  If you’re a hospice professional, it’s important to know that your agency might need to provide a few therapy visits.  If you’re a caregiver for a hospice patient or a hospice patient, be sure to ask your interdisciplinary team if you think some therapy visits might be beneficial.  

Register for your place at the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association conference coming up June 6-10 by visiting!  Be sure to tell them you heard about it on The Heart of Hospice podcast.

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