What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is a philosophy of care that is designed to provide comfort and pain management, not curative treatment.
Hospice is very different from traditional hospital-based care, which focuses on treating various medical conditions and doing surgery. Many people confuse hospice with “hospitals” or even nursing homes.
Hospice affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice care is comfort care for both the patient and family as they cope with a life-limiting illness.
Hospice primarily focuses on pain management, which can be achieved through medication or other physical and psychological support to make the patient as comfortable as possible. The services of nurses and doctors are available through hospice. Hospice provides medical supplies, equipment and medications to assist the patient in their comfort needs.
Hospice care gives patients and families peace-of-mind by allowing them to live out their lives in a peaceful, familiar environment—usually at home. Hospice care services are provided by family caregivers who tend to the patient in the patient’s own home, or at an alternate site, such as an adult day care center, assisted living facility or nursing home. Hospice also provides respite to family caregivers by covering the patient for brief periods of time so that the caregiver may take a break from his/her care-giving duties.
Hospice staff members encourage open communication between patients and families, patients and their doctors, and the patient’s family caregivers. Hospice staff members strive to foster an atmosphere of trust that encourages each individual to express concerns openly.
Hospice is primarily focused on comfort care for both the patient and family as they cope with a life-limiting illness. It is not curative; in other words, the goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Hospice care does not mean giving up on life, but rather a new focus on the quality of a person’s remaining life. What it does mean is that decisions about a patient’s treatment are made in coordination with the physicians, nurses and family members involved in supporting the patient.