Hospice services increased in nursing homes more than in any other care setting last year, according to the latest annual report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

The percentage of hospice patients who received end-of-life care in a nursing home increased from 17.2% in 2012 to 17.9% in 2013, the report states.

More people with chronic diseases are living longer, which explains the growth of hospice in this setting, according to NHPCO. Dementia in particular is becoming a more common primary diagnosis for a hospice patient, the report shows.

The majority of hospice patients receive services in their own home or another private residence, but this patient population showed the lowest annual increase, going from 41.5% to 41.7%. The proportion of hospice patients in residential facilities and hospice inpatient facilities decreased.

Acute care hospitals still are not major sites of hospice care but they posted solid growth, going from 6.6% to 7.0%.

The median length of service has been getting shorter, a concern for hospice professionals.

“While many dying Americans are opting for hospice care at the end of their lives, far too many receive care for a week or less,” stated J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “We need to reach patients earlier in the course of their illness to ensure they receive the full benefits that hospice and palliative care can offer.”

The report was unveiled last week at the NHPCO Clinical Team Conference and Pediatric Intensive conference in Nashville. The findings are based on NHPCO surveys and member information, and Medicare data.

Click here to access the complete report.