Kupu & Hospice Care: Community-Based Palliative Care Programs

Immortal we are not, so it's a blessing to know we have an exceptional service through the Hospice of Hilo to ease our pain and emotional stress when our time comes.  Lani Weigert, Clinical Relations Manager, explained a new program that started in April 2016 called Kupu Care that fills a gap for assistance before a patient needs hospice care.  Kupu Care focuses on relief, serves patients seeking a cure, and can be provided for years.  Hospice care focuses on comfort, is available for those no longer seeking a cure with a life expectancy of 6 months or less.  Without Kupu Care, daily episodes of pain may not be effectively treated or a person may die from depression.  Lani described this new program, who qualifies, and how it is paid for.
Kupu Care and hospice care are two types of palliative care offered by Hospice of Hilo.  Patients who receive palliative care tend to live longer and/or have a better quality of life.  The goals of palliative care are:
  • To relieve pain & emotional stress
  • To improve Quality of Life for patient and families
  • To reduce & avoid hospital visits.
Initially Kupu Care will focus on congestive heart failure (stage 3 and 4) and cancer (any type, any stage), with more added in time.  Kupu Care is provided by a team of nurses, social workers, and volunteers.  A nurse visits patients at home to take vital signs, oversee medication, and could also advocate for the patient with the patient's primary physician.  A social worker provides emotional support, connects the patients to resources (e.g., meals on wheels, transportation, legal aid), and coordinates services if the patient has several specialists.  Trained volunteers assist with light housekeeping chores, transportation, rest for caregiver, and help the patient feel supported.  Kupu Care can be provided at the patient's home, private care home, doctor's office (support, advocate for patient, explain to patient), or accompany the patient to treatments.  Except for VA and Kaiser, medicare and most insurance covers Kupu Care with a small co-payment depending on the insurance coverage.
 
The patient's primary physician, specialists, hospitalists, family or the patient can call the Hospice of Hilo to sign up for Kupu Care.