In this Voices interview, our Senior Director of IPU Operations, Ealia Washington, PharmD, CGP, BCACP, sits down with Hospice News to learn the ins and outs of the inpatient unit hospice, or IPU. Washington shares her experiences leading Enclara’s round-the-clock IPU support team and notes how Enclara is helping IPU nurses provide the best possible end-of-life care.
Hospice News: What experiences in your background you most draw from in your role today?
Ealia Washington: Throughout my career, I’ve worked in a variety of settings, including retail, hospital, academia, as well as clinical. These settings have afforded me the opportunity to not only collaborate with my fellow pharmacists, but with other members of the health care team, including patients and caregivers. I am able to view and understand the role and goals of the hospice inpatient level of care from various perspectives, which ultimately allows me to strategize and advocate both internally and externally, while prioritizing end-of-life patient outcomes.
Tell us about the inpatient unit hospice, known as IPU. What purpose does the IPU serve within the hospice ecosystem?
Washington: Patients are admitted to an IPU, or inpatient unit, when they exhibit symptoms that might no longer be controlled at home. It is also common for hospice providers to support various levels of care for IPU, such as a brief respite stay, typically five days in length. During this time, the patient’s caregiver can rest and recuperate.
The overall goal is to provide patients with comfort and support at the end of life. Patients and their families generally prefer to be in the comfort of their own home. IPUs provide higher-level care, but in a home-like setting. This typically includes private patient rooms and bathrooms and spaces outside the room for families to gather, relax, eat and speak with the providers.