What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice is a way of caring for people who are nearing the end of their lives. It is a comprehensive approach to care that balances the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their loved ones.
Hospice represents a philosophy of caring, not a physical structure. Services are usually provided at home, where the patient can remain in the comforting company of friends and loved ones. Many hospice providers also care for patients in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Hospice is very much about living and focusing on the quality of remaining life. It emphasizes the quality, dignity and sanctity of human existence, and neither hastens nor postpones death.
The first priority of hospice is to control pain. Studies show that as many as 80% of cancer patients and those with other debilitating illnesses do not receive adequate pain relief. Hospice providers know that through ongoing physical, emotional and spiritual support, symptoms can be managed, pain can be controlled and life can be enhanced for patients and their loved ones.
It is not uncommon for patients entering hospice to experience an improved sense of well-being and comfort. This often happens because pain management and symptom control issues are openly discussed and effectively resolved.
In addition to medical care, hospice can help families resolve interpersonal conflicts, plan for their financial future and deal with impending loss, while offering respite, spiritual support and companionship for patients and their loved ones.