Hospice care is end-of-life care that includes medical, psychological and spiritual support. The goal of this care is to help us have peace, comfort and dignity as we approach the last six months of our life. Hospice care is designed to control pain and other symptoms so a we can remain as alert and as comfortable as possible. Hospice programs also provide services to support a patient’s family.
Hospice, is a concept rooted in the centuries-old idea of offering a place of shelter and rest, or “hospitality” to weary and sick travelers on a long journey. It’s even mentioned in the Bible, Abraham offers hospitality to three travelers (Genesis XVIII 1-8) who turn out to be angels of G-d. In 1967, Dame Cicely Saunders at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London first applied the term “hospice” to specialized care for dying patients.
Hospice is actually a philosophy of care. The hospice philosophy recognizes death as the final stage of life. It seeks to enable us to continue an alert and pain-free life so that our last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by our loved ones.
Today, hospice care takes place in many different settings:
* At home
* At a hospice center
* In a hospital
* In a skilled nursing facility
Happily, the face of hospice care is changing with more choices becoming available to us. Historically, hospice programs required that we make a difficult choice, to stop advanced medical treatment in order to receive hospice services.
When faced with this choice, many of us will decide to forgo hospice care. Then, the only alternative that remains available to us will require expensive in-patient hospital care and multiple emergency room visits.
Recently, some hospice programs supported by some private health insurers are changing how hospice programs do business. These new, innovative programs are allowing us the medical comfort and social support traditionally available through hospice care, while at the same time allowing us to receive sophisticated medical treatments if we so elect to have them.
We can only hope that this new approach catches on. If more hospice programs adapt these policies, more of us will choose to utilize the services provided by hospice.
You can see a full article at: A Chance to Pick Hospice, and Still Hope to Live
Joel T. Nowak MA, MSW