Hospice in the Nursing Home: Perspectives of Front Line Nursing Home Staff

Kathleen T. Unroe, John G. Cagle, M. E. Dennis, Kathleen A. Lane, Christopher M. Callahan, Susan C. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Use of hospice has been associated with improved outcomes for nursing home residents and attitudes of nursing home staff toward hospice influences hospice referral. The objective of this study is to describe attitudes of certified nursing assistants (CNAs), nurses, and social workers toward hospice care in nursing homes. Design, setting, and participants: We conducted a survey of 1859 staff from 52 Indiana nursing homes. Measurements: Study data include responses to 6 scaled questions and 3 open-ended qualitative prompts. In addition, respondents who cared for a resident on hospice in the nursing home were asked how often hospice: (1) makes their job easier; (2) is responsive when a patient has symptoms or is actively dying; (3) makes care coordination smooth; (4) is needed; (5) taught them something; and (6) is appreciated by patients/families. Responses were dichotomized as always/often or sometimes/never. Results: A total of 1229 surveys met criteria for inclusion. Of the respondents, 48% were CNAs, 49% were nurses, and 3% were social workers; 83% reported caring for a nursing home patient on hospice. The statement with the highest proportion of always/often rating was 'patient/family appreciate added care' (84%); the lowest was 'hospice makes my job easier' (54%). More social workers responded favorably regarding hospice responsiveness and coordination of care compared with CNAs (. P= .03 and P= .05, respectively). Conclusions: A majority of staff responded favorably regarding hospice care in nursing homes. About one-third of nursing home staff rated coordination of care lower than other aspects, and many qualitative comments highlighted examples of when hospice was not responsive to patient needs, representing important opportunities for improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-884
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • CNAs
  • Hospice
  • Nursing home

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy

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