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What Is Hospice?


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Hospice care is a concept which emphasizes caring for the patient who is in an apparent end-of- life stage, in a comfortable physical and emotional surrounding.

Rather than continuing to treat a condition for which there  is no cure, the focus is placed on quality end-of-life care:  providing peace, comfort, and dignity,  including psychological and spiritual support.   Generally, hospice care does not include treatment for the underlying health condition. However, some hospices do accept patients before they have stopped aggressive  treatment and continue to treat the condition.

Hospice started with the concept of caring for travelers. Today, hospice care is a multi-disciplinary approach that provides a variety of services -- all of which are geared to care for the patient and the patient's loved ones.

Hospice care can be given at home, in a hospice,  or in a medical facility such as a hospital.

Hospice care is usually coordinated by a nurse who is particularly skilled at symptom control. Other members of the hospice team visit the patient as needed. Other team members generally include:

  • Doctors
  • Home health aides
  • Social workers
  • Spiritual advisors and/or clergy
  • Family.

Volunteers outside of the circle of family and friends are generally available to provide a break for loved ones.

Although hospice staff is not generally on premises all the time, staff members are usually available on call 24/7.

Counseling is generally provided to family members (including after the patient's death).

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