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What Is Hospice Care?

What Is Hospice Care?

If you or a loved one has a terminal illness and you’ve exhausted all treatment options, you might consider hospice care. Find out how hospice care works and how it can provide comfort and support to you or your loved one, as well as your family and friends.

What is Hospice care?
Hospice care is for people who are nearing the end of life. Hospice care services are provided by a team of health care professionals who maximize comfort for a terminally ill person by reducing pain and addressing physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. To help families, hospice care also provides counseling, respite care and practical support. Unlike other medical care, the focus of hospice care isn’t to cure the underlying disease. The goal of hospice care is to support the highest quality of life possible for whatever time remains.

 When should hospice services be considered?
Hospice care can be discussed at any time. Often, the discussion about hospice services takes place when the patient and his or her loved ones learn that:

• The disease is no longer treatable and that additional therapies will not provide any benefit
• Live expectancy may be six months or less
• A physical decline and exhaustion are likely to be permanent
• Treatment is no longer desired by the patient

Who can benefit from hospice care?
Hospice care is for a terminally ill person who’s expected to have six months or less to live. This doesn’t mean that hospice care will be provided only for six months. Hospice care can be provided as long as the person’s doctor and hospice care team certify that the condition remains life-limiting.
Hospice care isn’t just for people who have cancer. Many people who receive hospice care have cancer, while others have heart disease, dementia, kidney failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Hospice care has been shown to make people who have incurable illnesses feel better and live longer. Enrolling in hospice care early might help you or your loved one develop a strong relationship with the hospice staff, who can help with preparation for end-of-life needs.

Where is hospice care provided?
Most hospice care is provided at home with a family member typically serving as the primary caregiver. However, hospice care is also available at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and dedicated hospice facilities.

Hospice care is delivered in the home or an inpatient setting and is provided by a medically directed interdisciplinary team. Each team includes a physician, registered nurse, social worker, clergy, hospice aide, therapist (if needed) and any number of volunteers. Bereavement support is provided to both families and caregivers. The type and scope of services provided is based on ongoing needs assessments and is unique to each patient and family.

Hospice emphasizes palliative rather than curative treatment; quality rather than quantity of life. The dying are comforted. Professional medical care is given, and sophisticated symptom relief provided. The patient and family are both included in the care plan and emotional, spiritual and practical support is given based on the patient’s wishes and family’s needs. Trained volunteers can offer relief for family members as well as meaningful support to the patient.

Those involved in the process of dying have a variety of physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs. The nature of dying is so unique that the goal of the hospice team is to be sensitive and responsive to the special requirements of each individual and family. Hospice affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice provides personalized services and a caring community so that patients and families can attain the necessary preparation for a death that is satisfactory to them.

Many physicians hesitate to bring up the subject of hospice because they do not want patients to think that they have given up. There may come a time when you think that hospice care should be considered, but are not sure how to start this conversation. If this is the case, a member of the Glory Hospice & Palliative Care can help you define what options are available.