What Is Hospice?

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Hospice care is care to provide comfort to the patient and ensure the quality of life. Hospice care usually occurs when a patient has been determined to have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less. The focus of hospice care is not to provide curative treatments, but to manage symptoms and to give comfort, emotional and spiritual support to the patient and to his loved ones when faced with the impending end of the patient’s life.

A hospice team can include the physician, nurses, social workers, hospice aids, bereavement counselors and volunteers. Members of the hospice tem are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to answer questions. They may visit whenever support is needed.

Hospice services may be provided in a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, at a hospice center or at the patient’s home. The patient’s family and loved ones are the primary caregivers if the patient is a home. The hospice team will provide guidance and support as well a periodic visits from a hospice nurse.

Services provided by hospice include, in addition to the support of the hospice team, medical supplies and needed equipment, medicines, needed laboratory tests and therapists as required. Hospice will help guide and counsel the patient and loved ones in dealing with issues related to life completion. Volunteers may help with meal preparations or errands if needed. The hospice team will provide support and counseling to loved ones after the death of the patient.

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To some people hospice is considered a last resort and a sign the patient has given up. In fact, hospice is really a type of care which provides the patient comfort and focuses on the qualify of life. The patient is encouraged to try and make the most of each day. It will help the patient recognize the options available so the patient will have some control and be able to make decision important to him.

In order to quality for hospice care two things must be true for you. You have a terminal illness. ( A terminal illness if one which cannot be cured.) And, your physician does not expect you will live more than 6 months.

However, if you live longer than the 6 months you can continue in hospice care. If your condition should improve then you can stop hospice care.

A patient may leave hospice care and return to curative treatments if this is the patient’s choice.

Hospice care does nothing to alter the dying process ether by slowing it down or speeding it up. Rather it is designed to give support and comfort to the patient and loved ones as the illness runs its course.