What's a Hospice

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What's a Hospice

For families and caregivers, hospice can provide the support and training to deal with a loved one who is approaching the end of life.  Hospice programs serve patients with terminal illness resulting in a life expectancy of six months or less, as determined by the patient's physician. When the goal of treatment begins to shift from curing the illness to providing comfort, it is usually recommended to engage hospice services, sometimes referred to as palliative care.


Hospice services span all types of care environments.  Services can be coordinated with traditional home care, they can supplement the services of an assisted living facility (usually by engaging an outside agency), they can be part of, or added to nursing facility services, or they can exist in a special facility where all residents are receiving hospice care.


Programs and Services
A team of hospice professionals and volunteers work cooperatively with the patient, their family, and the primary physician to provide this special form of care.


The hospice team can include any or all of the following, depending on the needs of the patient and family:

  • The patient's physician who becomes an integral part of the hospice team and continues to direct the plan of care.
  • The hospice's medical director who oversees the medical services provided to each patient in the hospice program and ensures high quality of care.
  • Registered nurses who specialize in pain management and symptom control, particularly for end-stage diseases.
  • Certified home health aides who provide personal care and help with the activities of daily living.
  • Licensed social workers who assist the patient and family with emotional concerns including bereavement, as well as access to supportive community resources.
  • Pastoral counselors who serve people of all faiths, or of no religious faith, providing comfort and support whenever requested. They also will facilitate contacts with community clergy as needed.
  • Bereavement counselors who support the family and loved ones of all ages with support groups, one-on-one counseling and other special services during the bereavement process.
  • Rehabilitation therapists who can help to improve the patient's quality of life.
  • Volunteers who have been trained to provide companionship and support the patient and family with the every-day challenges of life.

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