Hospice Explained

Hospice Explained

What is hospice?

Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on the quality of life.

  • Provided to patients with advanced life-limiting illness or injury
  • Goal is to help patients live as alert and comfortably as possible
  • Focuses on controlling patient’s pain and symptoms, not providing curative measures
  • Team helps patient, family and friends cope with stress and emotions an illness can bring
  • Available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness

At the heart of hospice care is the belief that each of us has the right to spend the end of our lives pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.

Related: Our blog series “Understanding Hospice” provides a solid knowledge-base of hospice that helps patients and their families make informed decisions.

How does hospice care work?

It is the patient’s right to choose which hospice program suits his or her needs. Following this initial decision, a family member typically serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make decisions for the terminally ill individual. Members of the hospice team make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other services as needed. Hospice staff is always available by telephone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Related: The Levels of Hospice Care

Each team at Accredited Healthcare of America consists of:

  • Patient’s personal physician and/or
  • Hospice physician
  • Registered Nurses
  • Certified Nurse Aides
  • Social worker
  • Chaplain
  • Trained volunteers

What kind of services are provided?

Among its major responsibilities, the interdisciplinary hospice team:

  • Develops a care plan that meets each patient’s individual needs for pain management and symptom control
  • Manages the patient’s pain and symptoms according to their care plan
  • Assists the patient and family with the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying
  • Provides needed medications, medical supplies, and equipment
  • Coaches the family on how to care for the patient
  • Delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed
  • Assists in arrangement of short-term inpatient care when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home or the caregiver needs respite time
  • Provides bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends

Hospice settings

Hospice care can be provided in:

  • the patient’s home or that of the main caregiver
  • an assisted living facility
  • a skilled nursing home or other skilled facility
  • a hospital

Most hospice care in the United States is provided in the home, with family members or friends serving as the main hands-on caregivers. This means a patient under home hospice care must have a caregiver in the home with them 24 hours a day.

From the first days of a life-limiting illness to long past the loss of a loved one, hospice offers a mainstay of resources and respite, help and hope to affirm a meaningful quality of life for all at the journey’s end.