The evolution of volunteerism and professional staff within hospice care in North Carolina.
Although the pursuit of Medicare certification has been one of the most controversial events in hospice history no study has examined its impact using data from a defined population of hospices before, during, and after federal legislation was enacted. This paper revisits the debate over the changing role of volunteers using such a longitudinal data source. Over time, as the patient population grew, aggregate levels of volunteers and professional staff increased. However, the ratios of professional staff and volunteers to patients reveal that regardless of certification status, hospices retained more professional staff per patient and fewer volunteers per patient over time. These data suggest hospices, particularly certified organizations, have transitioned from voluntary organizations to professionally staffed organizations with a strong volunteer component. The most important issue for future research is whether the observed changes have affected the quality of hospice care.
Steinhauser, KE; Maddox, GL; Person, JL; Tulsky, JA
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