What is Hospice Care: Hospice care is defined as care rendered to a terminally ill patient. It can be given in home or at a facility. It can also be referred to as "pallative" or "supportive" care. Hospice care focuses on the management of pain for the patient and support for family members.
History of Hospice Care: Hospice, in the earliest days, was 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. Dame Cicely Saunders at St. Christopher's Hospice in London first applied the term "hospice" to specialized care for dying patients in 1967. Today, hospice care provides humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.
Hospice is a philosophy of care. The hospice philosophy recognizes death as the final stage of life and seeks to enable patients to continue an alert, pain-free life and to manage other symptoms so that their last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. Hospice affirms life and does not hasten or postpone death. Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease; it highlights quality rather than length of life. It provides family-centered care involving the patient and family in making decisions. Care is provided for the patient and family 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hospice care can be given in the patient's home, a hospital, nursing home, or private hospice facility. Most hospice care in the United States is given in the home, with a family member or members serving as the main hands-on caregiver.
Hospice care is appropriate when you can no longer benefit from curative treatment and your life expectancy is about 6 months. You, your family, and your doctor decide together when hospice services should begin. One of the problems with beginning hospice is that it is often not started soon enough. Sometimes the doctor, patient or family member will resist trying hospice because he or she feels it sends a message of no hope. This is not true. If your condition improves or the disease goes into remission, you can be discharged from the hospice program and return to active cancer treatment, if desired. Hospice care may be resumed at a later time. The hope that hospice brings is the hope of a quality life, day -to-day, during the stage of advanced illness.