Hospice- What is it?
- It is a philosophy of how to care for dying patients.
- It can be a building where care is provided to terminally ill patients.
- It may be an organization or business that provides care based on the hospice philosophy to dying patients and their families .
Our philosophy of care centers on providing holistic care to dying patients and their loved ones. Hospice care doesn’t try to cure a patient’s terminal illness. Instead, it tries to limit or manage the symptoms of that disease so the patient can be comfortable despite his or her terminal illness.
Hospice is for the dying, but also about living well in the last part of life
The goal of hospice care is to enable the patient to live the best life he or she can possibly live in the time that remains. It doesnít try to postpone death, or to make death happen more quickly. Rather, it allows the patientís terminal disease to progress at a natural rate while aggressively working to prevent uncomfortable symptoms or to treat those symptoms when they arise.
Hospice healthcare professionals attempt to control or eliminate pain, nausea, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms brought about by the patientís disease or the dying process. Relieving the patient of these symptoms allows him or her to focus on living well rather than on those uncomfortable symptoms.
Patients who choose to receive palliative care arenít ďgiving upĒ. They havenít lost hope. Rather, the focus of their hope and energy has shifted. While they may still hope for a cure, rather than expending their energy pursuing a cure, theyíre choosing to spend their energy toward the fulfillment of other hopes.
They may hope to mend a relationship, to resolve an internal conflict, to provide as smooth a transition as possible for a loved one, or to accomplish a specific goal. But, almost universally, patients hope to maximize their enjoyment of each and every precious remaining moment.
Hospice isnít just for the patient
According to hospice philosophy, in order to provide the best care for the patient, you must also provide emotional, psychological, and spiritual care for the patientís loved ones. Hospice doesnít usually espouse a particular religion or spiritual practice, but will support the existing spiritual beliefs of the patient or loved one.
Grief and bereavement care provided to a patientís loved ones usually extends for months beyond the death of the patient. Grief support services include counseling, support groups, and follow up to help loved ones cope with their grief and adjust to changes in their lives brought about by the patientís death.
Where does hospice care take place?
Many palliative care organizations provide comfort care in the patientís home. However, there are also programs that provide a place for patients to live while receiving comfort services. This may be a freestanding building used exclusively for hospice patients. Or, it could be an area within a hospital or nursing home.
Paying for hospice care
In the United States, Medicare pays for hospice services via the Hospice Medicare Benefit. Most, but not all, state Medicaid programs also cover Compassion’s services. Private and job-based health insurance plans may or may not specifically include hospice coverage, but most do.
Many non-profit and charitable hospice organizations provide comfort care for free to dying patients who can’t afford to pay for it, and who don’t have health insurance coverage for services.
Pronounce the “hos” part of the word just like you pronounce it in the words hospital and hostel. Pronounce the end of the word so that it rhymes with kiss. The accent is on the first syllable.
By Elizabeth Davis, RN
Health Insurance Expert