Traditional hospice criteria require patients to have a primary caregiver -- someone that lives with the patient and attends to his or her daily needs. As a result, access to hospice services has been routinely denied to otherwise qualified people simply because they live alone. Approximately one-third of people over age 65 live alone.
The Living Alone Program from Penn Wissahickon Hospice makes it possible for people to maintain their independence while receiving hospice services. The Living Alone Program started in 1989. The program has served as a role model for numerous other programs throughout the country.
Patient must be ambulatory at time of admission
Patient must be psychologically stable
Patient must have no recent history of alcohol or drug abuse
Patient must have adequate housing
In addition to standard hospice services, a hospice social worker assists in the organization and implementation of the best plan of care for Living Alone Program patients, including long-term planning for when the patient can no longer reside alone. The social worker will continually assess needs including:
A medical alert system to assure the patient prompt emergency help
A door lock-box enabling hospice staff to gain entrance at all times
Helping with assigning durable power of attorney
Arranging for regular meals or shopping
Frequent telephone contact with the patient, including weekends