Hospice Leadership Lessons from Hospice Conference

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2020 has been named “the year of the nurse” and nowhere was that more apparent than at the recent Texas Association for Home Care and Hospice (TAHCH) Winter Conference. Hundreds of healthcare professionals gathered to focus on the full spectrum of post-acute care. Session topics included learning more about hospice CAP calculation, developing a culture of leadership, and improving clinical documentation, among others. Each session proved valuable for those who focus on providing compassionate end-of-life care. My background and particular interest lie in that final stage, where families prepare to say goodbye to a loved one.

TAHCH Winter Conference Highlights

The three most important things I learned from this conference were not necessarily specific topics or in presentations but rather things that were reinforced throughout the conference.

  1. Relationships matter more than data at the end of life.
  2. Governing bodies such as Medicare and the MACs have rules and requirements that almost appear to make relationships irrelevant.
  3. When we lead our clinicians and caregivers in the right way, our leadership ensures those relationships at the end of life can overcome the requirements for data and documentation compliance.

My colleague Zaundra Ellis, our director of hospice solutions, shared her expertise during a presentation titled “Developing a Culture of Leadership for Hospice leaders.” She tied QAPI in with leadership culture and she shared tips on how to “overcome” the burden regulatory requirements can place on developing quality through a culture of leadership in a hospice organization. When we understand that regulatory requirements are the baseline and not the goal of quality end of life care, we can begin to lead our teams and agencies to focus on what matters most to patients and families at the end of life.

Hiring Practices for Hospice Leaders

Additionally, hiring employees based simply on their skills or experience is not the best practice to ensure the organization’s success and uphold a culture of quality and leadership. Hiring based on how the employee will fit in with the culture of the organization is much more effective than hiring based on the skills they will bring to the organization. Hiring people who will fit into and support the organization’s vision and mission will do much more to ensure the success of that vision and mission than a new hire who has the best skills but does not grasp the importance of the vision and mission.

I was also interested to learn the importance of group interviews, and how a checklist that can be shared with a candidate for employment can prove beneficial in reinforcing the culture of quality. Utilizing a checklist of required traits or characteristics of employees also reminds the existing team that those traits matter to the organization. When employees see the leaders living out the vision and mission, they will buy into that vision much more deeply. In the end, QAPI may force us to meet certain requirements, but it is just a starting point, not the goal. A culture of leadership is what will ensure the best delivery of care at the end of life. And that allows the relationships that matter to be the focus of the care.

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