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Study Focuses On Palliative Care Patient Health Outcomes

Community Hospice Inc. (CHI), serving the Central Valley since 1979, announced that Covenant Ministries of Benevolence has granted them an award of more than $85,000 to conduct a research study. The study focuses on providing elderly community-based palliative care patients who reside in one of 19 zip code areas in and around Southern Stanislaus County with specialized support.

A Nutrition Coach will meet with the Trial Group regularly to assess and track medical data on participants over a six-month period. During the six months the Nutrition Coach will educate and encourage participants to lead a healthy lifestyle. Participants will choose $100 of food and beverage items from a “Healthy” shopping list monthly to ensure they have access to nutrient rich foods. The hypothesis of the research project is: “Nutritional-Based Coaching Improves Health Outcomes for Elderly Palliative Care Patients.”

Individual metrics will be collected monthly from the Trial Group participants to identify trends, if any, in their health. Metrics include the following: Food Patterns; Weight Loss/Gain; Mobility; Emotional Well-being; Blood Pressure; and BMI.

The Control Group of the study will also be community-based palliative patients aged 60 or older. They will participate in an initial assessment and complete a survey tool at the beginning and end of the six-month period. The Control Group will also be provided a personalized healthy Meal Plan.

To participate in the study, one must be enrolled and receiving care through the Hospice Community Care Choices Community-based Palliative Care Program. To qualify for palliative care services, a person must be diagnosed with a serious illness. Diagnosis ranges from cancer, heart disease, pulmonary disease, infectious disease, or have reoccurring health challenges. Care is provided in a patient’s house, apartment, skilled nursing facility or wherever they call home.

Promoting healthy dietary habits for the elderly is exponentially important for several reasons. Nutrition impacts health in several ways:

• Organ function of the eyes, kidneys, liver and digestive tract

• Brain function impacting memory and cognitive ability

• Managing chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and dementia

• Strengthening the immune system that promotes proper healing

• Muscle and bone health to prevent fractures and falls, maintaining mobility, strength, flexibility and posture.

Community Hospice proposes that providing regular nutritional interventions by a Nutrition Coach over the course of six months will make a positive difference in overall health and quality of life of the Trial Group patients. Outcomes from this research study will be used to assist in creating a voice to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop access and reimbursement for palliative programs across the country. Currently, national regulations, standards or reimbursement do not exist for palliative care services. Community Hospice is dedicated to being a catalyst to raise awareness of the need for palliative care, including nutritional counseling.

C. DeSha McLeod, Community Hospice Chief Executive Officer/President currently serves on the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) Palliative Care Council that makes recommendations to CMS on proposed demonstration projects and regulations.

“It is our hope that this research project will demonstrate that looking through the lens of good nutrition becomes one of the standards of practice adopted to care for palliative and seriously ill patients,” McLeod stated.

For more information about this research study or Community Care Choices Community-based Palliative Care program call 209-578-6300.

Community Hospice is the oldest and largest nonprofit hospice agency in the Central Valley. Serving the community since 1979, Community Hospice has embraced thousands of individuals and families facing life-changing journeys, enhancing quality of life for all. Palliative and hospice care extends to more than 2,000 patients each year in private homes, skilled nursing facilities, retirement communities and at the 16-bed inpatient Alexander Cohen Hospice House. Community Hospice also provides bereavement and grief support to anyone in the community. For more information, call 209-578-6300 or visit