Just days ago, the New Jersey Department of Health released a report issued by The New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on the End-of-Life Care. This report completes the charge to the Council, which convened in September 2016, and for 18 months operated independently under the umbrella of the state’s Department of Health.
The Council’s report, released on November 21, 2018, calls for the improvement end-of-life care delivery in the Garden State. The 54 page report stresses the importance of establishing patient priorities and defining goals of care by more effective communication and better utilization of palliative care.
“New Jersey patients experience more aggressive care at the end-of-life without evidence to suggest a corresponding medical benefit, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “We are thankful for the experts on this panel for developing these recommendations to improve the delivery of this care in our state,” adds Elnahal.
The Council’s report includes 26 immediate and long-term recommendations for improving end-of-life care in New Jersey.
The report called for the creation of a statewide organization (e.g., Coalition or Workgroup) to implement the Council’s recommendations and further the work by identifying best practices surrounding end-of-life care. The newly established organization would be charged with conducting robust professional training and education for providers on advance care planning, palliative care and end-of-life care. It would also facilitate the integration of palliative care and use of standardized screening tools across the continuum of healthcare.
Release of Report Coincides with National Hospice and Palliative Care Month
The organization would also promote the implementation of an electronic registry of Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). It would also allow mobile intensive care paramedics to provide non-emergency home visits to patients with chronic and serious illnesses (such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s dementia, advanced Parkinson’s, and others) who need palliative care and do not qualify for home care or hospice services. Finally, the organization would work to increase community awareness, education and outreach to ensure more residents are thinking about, discussing and documenting wishes with their family and their healthcare providers.
In keeping with one of the Council’s recommendations, the release of the report coincides with National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. The New Jersey Department of Health and the Council share with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization the goal of increasing public awareness about the benefits of hospice and palliative care in the United States.
The New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on End-of-Life Care was established by statute in 2011 to advise the Governor on policy issues related to end-of-life care in New Jersey; to identify best practices and programs; formulate and recommend strategies for disseminating information to the public; and to develop goals and benchmarks to improve patient access and providing high-quality, cost-effective palliative and end-of-life care. The enabling statute was signed into law by former Governor Chris Christie on August 18, 2011 and was sponsored by Senators Ruiz, Weinberg, Grace, Vitale, Cunningham, Van Drew, Gordon, Beach, Stack and former Senator Beck. The Act will expire upon the submission of this report to the Governor and the Legislature.
To view the report visit: https://www.state.nj.us/health/advancedirective/documents/NJAdvisoryCouncil_EOL_FinalReport.pdf.