Current practices of live discharge from hospice: Social work perspectives

Document Type


Publication Date



Social Work

Publication Title

Health and Social Work


Hospice provides holistic support for individuals living with terminal illness and to their caregivers during the bereavement period. However, some individuals who enroll in hospice services are decertified as they do not experience a decline in health as quickly as required by current regulations, a practice referred to as a live discharge. The interruption in care can affect the physical and psychosocial care needs for individuals and caregivers and leave hospice clinicians with questions about how to best support them. However, there are no formal guidelines to support this process. This qualitative study (N = 24) explored the current practices of hospice social workers across the United States engaged in the live discharge process. Results from this study emphasize the need to bridge the gaps between policy and practice. Specifically, results highlight the challenges hospice social workers face to replicate or supplement the holistic support and unique services hospice provides for individuals discharged alive, and suggest further research to develop live discharge guidelines to identify appropriate support for patients and their caregivers who no longer meet hospice eligibility requirements.

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