What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is final act of love by the family of a loved one who is facing a life-limiting disease, injury or simply transitioning through the final phases of life due to advanced age. Hospice is the most qualitative, compassionate team-based approach to providing the ones we love with the highest medical, pain management, spiritual, psychological and emotional support in accordance with each patient’s values and directives.

The care is not limited to only the patient, but to the patient’s family, as well.  End-of-life transition can be a transformative, spiritually bonding time among loved ones who are secure in the knowledge that their family member is exercising his or her right to die pain-free with dignity in an environment of their choice.

Specifics of Hospice Care

Hospice is not about cure, it is about extreme care. Although a good segment of hospice care is done at hospice homes, palliative care is also provided at a person’s home or the home of a family member or friend.  Some hospice care is also provided at hospitals nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.  Hospice services are not limited to the elderly.  Patients can be of any age, religion, race, or disease state.

Typically, hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations.

How Do You Arrange for Hospice Care for your Loved One?

In most instances, families rely on a specific family member to provide care to the nearing end-of-life loved one. This person – or family members – will help make decisions, aided by hospice staff members who make scheduled visits throughout the course of treatment to assess the patient, to provide needed care or services requested by the primary caregiver or patient. Hospice staff is available on call throughout the day and night, including weekends and holidays.

Each patient is treated in accordance to his or her specific needs. The hospice team create a plan of care with pain management at the center along with control of demise symptoms.  Although teams may configure differently per patient, typically a hospice care team will be comprised of:

  • A lead physician (usually the patient’s doctor)
  • Hospice doctor
  • Nurses
  • Psychologist
  • Spiritual practitioner or clergy
  • Home health assistants
  • Social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Volunteer Companions

Range of Hospice Services Offered

Each hospice team is comprised of a cadre of individuals who work in tandem to provide safety, comfort, spiritual and psychological well-being throughout the process. The hospice team provides these primary services:

  • Does whatever is necessary to abate the patient’s pain and symptoms
  • Works with the patient and their family to provide emotional, spiritual and psychological support surrounding the process of dying
  • Administers medication needed to control pain
  • Provides mobility and other medical equipment and supplies, as needed
  • Teaches family members detailed aspect of patient care
  • Provides occupational therapy services, when needed or requested
  • Affords in-patient care for family members receiving hospice care at home when pain or symptoms become increasingly challenging for family members
  • Provide respite care for caregivers
  • Provide end-of-life and bereavement counseling to surviving family members and friends