Hospice East Bay Policy for Supporting Patients who express interest in or acquire life-ending medication under the End-of-Life Option Act.

Hospice East Bay recognizes the patient’s right to make choices that fit his or her personal goals of care, values and beliefs. That right extends to the legal right under California law (End of Life Option Act) to end their lives with prescribed medication. No patient will be denied services by Hospice East Bay based on interest or active participation in the Act.

Current hospice patients who express interest in the End-of-Life Option Act will be given the opportunity to explore their reasons further with the interdisciplinary team. Hospice staff members and volunteers will be helped to explore their own beliefs and values and will be educated in responding respectfully to patients.

Staff members or volunteers who prefer for their own personal reasons not to work with patients who intend to pursue or participate in the Act will be allowed to opt out of providing care. Such staff/volunteers shall help Hospice East Bay ensure a smooth transition of care to maintain patient dignity and comfort.

Procedure

All Hospice East Bay employees will be educated on the agency’s policy concerning the Act. Volunteers will be offered the same education.

Hospice East Bay recognizes that each individual employee/volunteer will need to thoughtfully consider whether it is within their own ability, values and beliefs to provide care for patients who are requesting medication to hasten death. It is not the intent of Hospice East Bay to assume staff/volunteer involvement. It is the employee’s or volunteer’s responsibility to inform their manager of concerns or reluctance around caring for patients who are requesting medication to hasten death, including discussion and requests for information. Managers will be responsible for assessing and, if needed, reassigning staff or volunteers to ensure excellent patient care.

Employees who engage directly with patients will be educated at orientation and ongoing on the following:

  • How to respond when a patient mentions the Act or indicates interest in acquiring end of life medication;
  • Maintaining a nonjudgmental stance to preserve patient dignity and to avoid communicating any negativity;
  • How to utilize patient interest to engage in dialogue about end of life wishes or concerns with current plan of care;
  • How to carry out the agency’s best practice standards for responding to requests;
  • Their role in providing ongoing care.

Employees/volunteers who choose to opt out of providing care will request a reassignment from their supervisor. These employees/volunteers will work to ensure patients do not feel devalued or abandoned.

No employee or volunteer shall attempt to influence in any way another employee or volunteer in his/her beliefs or opinions regarding the Act. The agency will fully respect the personal beliefs of all employees and volunteers without question or discrimination.