Reach More Families through Collaboration with Hospice
November 03, 2022
When local hospice programs send funeral home referrals to families, how can you ensure your funeral home is the first one that comes to mind?
Kelly Gilgenbach, VP of sales, leads a webinar over collaborating with hospice.
Maintain a strong, collaborative relationship with hospice
The best way to set your funeral home apart from the rest is to develop and maintain strong, collaborative relationships with hospice workers and programs in your community! There are multiple ways to build an effective outreach program, but before we dive into that, let’s talk about a few statistics that explain the importance of developing a relationship with hospice workers and the families in their care.
Based on the latest CDC statistics, here's where the majority of U.S. deaths occur:
47% of deaths occurred in a hospital or medical facility
22% of deaths occurred in a nursing home or long-term care facility
25% of deaths occurred at home
In 2019, 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries died in hospice care (NHPCO Report). This means that 42.1% of all deaths in 2019 in the U.S. (2.85 million) occurred while the patient was receiving hospice care.
These numbers indicate that a large number of deaths in the U.S. occur in hospice care, meaning there's a good chance many of the families you are trying to connect with are working with hospice.
Funeral Homes and Hospice
When a loved one transitions from hospice care to the funeral home, families want to know their loved one is in the care of people they trust. And based on the facts above, families would benefit from a comprehensive and supportive system provided by their medical team and funeral home staff.
But it can be a real challenge to collaborate with hospice.
In one of our recent webinars, we asked funeral directors about some of the biggest challenges they face when working with hospice staff, and here are some of the responses we got:
1. "Since COVID, hospice is out of habit of letting us meet with staff”
2. "I can’t get a good contact to explain my services to”
3. “Hospice nurses take control of the first call”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we lost a lot of personal contact with hospice staff. And with high turnover of hospice staff, it can be difficult to gain a good contact to keep in touch with. This means you spend more time re-educating individual hospice nurses about your services than connecting with the family. It’s time to start rebuilding personal contact with hospice nurses again for easier collaboration.
One Funeral Home's Experience
Problems like these affect funeral homes every day. Here’s how one funeral home bridged the gap to make collaboration happen despite these issues:
Rader Funeral Homes
Rader Funeral Homes in Longview and Henderson, Texas, noticed the disconnect between funeral homes and hospice programs. Community Relations Coordinator Erika Rader worked to develop a hospice outreach program, and she shares her tips below:
Tip #1: Connect with Hospice Programs in Your Community – Start networking with hospice programs in your city to form lasting relationships. Presentations and volunteering helped Erika connect with hospice programs in her community.
"I gave general presentations to keep those relationships strong and volunteered with the hospices on events. I handed out planning guides for the nurses to give to families, so we already had these existing relationships, which was great."
Tip #2: Show Your Software to Hospice Care Providers – Erika explained how sharing Passare with hospice centers generated more conversations about how the platform helps families.
“The success with the hospices has been overwhelming. I feel like Passare has opened up a whole new conversation. The hospices that I work with really love hearing about it. Before, I was covering a wide range of topics when I visited hospice centers. Now, the hospices that I have talked to want me to come back continually to talk about Passare and how we're using it with families. It’s really exciting that they're so excited about what a wonderful service this is for their families.”
Tip #3: Enhance Service to Families – Passare’s easy-to-use software is what made Erika's staff open to the idea of using this new technology in their funeral home.
“Passare is not replacing the funeral director; it is actually enhancing that family's experience with the funeral director.”
Tip #4: Increase Opportunities for Collaboration with Hospice Nurses – Erika and her staff used the collaborative software, Passare’s Planning Center, to help nurses and family members prepare for a loss before it occurs.
“Some families have even added their hospice nurse into the Planning Center because the nurses are so close to the patient at the end of life. And to me, that's something really special because the families might not have known how to incorporate the hospice nurse or the caregiver. Or, they might not have thought about it, but with Passare, it just opens up a lot of possibilities and frees up a lot of time. Families are able to think a little bit more about what they want, and they’re able to bring that hospice nurse into the process in a way that's convenient for families and the hospice nurse.”
Tip #5: Provide a Best-in-Class Service for Families – Erika described the responses from families and community members about Passare’s collaborative platform and how happy she is with Passare.
“We’ve heard from families who used Passare and how much easier it made the experience for them. We’ve served families who have buried their father without Passare. Then, two years later, they come back and bury their mother, and they are so thankful that we have this service now and comment on how much easier it was. It’s just exciting to be a part of something like this. It’s very special. It’s bringing people together in a very special way.”
Tip #6: Become Known as the Leading Provider of Service in Your Area
Although meeting with hospice workers alone has kept her busy, Erika explains there’s no greater joy than seeing how important hospice workers are to families. She hopes to reach out to other programs in her community to strengthen relationships and show the benefits of Passare:
“Overall, being able to share this program has strengthened our relationship with the area hospices because we're able to show them that we're doing this for the families. It's just one way that we can better serve them. I know firsthand how important hospice workers are to families. Passare is a resource I am excited to share with them so that they can share it with their families.”
The more you show hospice programs how much you care for families and how you’re willing to work with hospice nurses, the more likely they are to refer families to your funeral home. But showing them how Passare works and how they can collaborate with you and families doesn’t hurt either.
Learn more ways to collaborate with hospice using your funeral home software by watching this webinar led by Kelly Gilgenbach, VP of Sales.