Hospice care is a special kind of care that focuses on the quality of life for people and their caregivers who are experiencing an advanced, life-limiting illness. Hospice care provides compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.
The hospice philosophy accepts death as the final stage of life: it affirms life, but does not try to hasten or postpone death. Hospice care treats the person and symptoms of the disease, rather than treating the disease itself. A team of professionals work together to manage symptoms so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. Hospice care is also family-centered – it includes the patient and the family in making decisions.
Hospice programs generally use a multidisciplinary team approach, including the services of a nurse, doctor, social worker and clergy in providing care. Additional services provided include drugs to control pain and manage other symptoms; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; medical supplies and equipment; medical social services; dietary and other counseling; continuous home care at times of crisis; and bereavement services.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Studies show hospice care often is not started soon enough. Sometimes the doctor, patient, or family member will resist hospice because they think it means “giving up” or that there’s no hope. It’s important to know that you can leave hospice and go into active cancer treatment any time you want. But the hope that hospice brings is a quality life, making the best of each day during the last stages of advanced illness.