Videos that Demystify Hospice and Medical Procedures

Jul 8, 2014 | 0 comments

When a doctor tells a patient what a ventilator does, it’s not nearly as effective as showing the patient the process of insertion and being on the ventilator. Videos can help explain end-of-life issues and foster patient and family understanding better than words alone.

Dr. Angelo Volandes, ACP Decisions

Dr. Angelo Volandes, ACP Decisions

Years ago, Dr. Angelo Volandes, an internist and co-founder of ACP Decisions, took care of a hospital patient with terminal cancer. He discussed her prognosis and available medical procedures with her, but she had a hard time understanding what he was describing.

They went on a tour of the Intensive Care Unit. After she saw what really goes on there, she said, “Words, words, words. Angelo, I understood every single word you said before, but I had no idea that’s what you were talking about. It doesn’t look like that on television.”

ACP Decisions is a nonprofit organization that produces short, easy-to-understand videos to better inform patients about their medical options at the end of life. The videos empower patients and their families to make informed decisions about their care choices based on their goals and values.

“If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video speaks hundreds of thousands of words,” said Volandes. They have created a library of videos that graphically portray medical options available to patients, such as CPR, ventilation, feeding tubes, goals of care, and hospice care.

These videos are being successfully used in hospitals and hospices across the U.S. The Washington Post did a story about these videos and their impact on patient care and choices. You can read the story online: “Videos aim to inform patients about their medical options at the end of life”

Demystifying Hospice

Jennifer Sheets Gentiva

Jennifer Sheets, Gentiva Health Services

The television show The Balancing Act did an eight-minute interview demystifying hospice. Host Julie Moran spoke with Jennifer Sheets, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations for Gentiva Health Services.

When goal of care is “I don’t want to bounce in and out of the hospital,” and the patient wants to stay home surrounded by family and friends, that’s when home hospice becomes appropriate. The biggest misconception is that hospice is where you go when there’s nothing else to be done, or when the person is on death’s doorstep.

It’s really about making the most out of life in the days that are available. There’s a real benefit to getting on hospice as soon as possible. Studies show that hospice patients often live longer than patients who receive aggressive care in the hospital.

Hospice is actually a support system as much for the caregivers as well as the patient. The hospice team includes a physician, registered nurse, social worker, and chaplain, supplemented by trained volunteers and other assistants.

The services of a hospice program are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurance plans. For more information and to find local providers for home health care and hospice, visit


A Good Goodbye