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Healthy Living

November is Hospice Month

What is hospice care?

Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end-of-life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient's needs and wishes. Support is extended to the patient' s loved ones, as well. At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. The focus is on caring, not curing and, in most cases, care is provided in the patient' s home. Hospice care also is provided in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness.

How does hospice care work?

Typically, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make decisions for the terminally ill individual. Members of the hospice staff make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other services. Hospice staff are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The hospice team develops a care plan that meets each patient' s individual needs for pain management and symptom control. The team usually consists of:

  • The patient and family/caregiver
  • The patient' s personal physician
  • Hospice physician (or medical director)
  • Nurses
  • Home health aides
  • Social workers
  • Clergy or other counselors
  • Trained volunteers
  • Speech, physical, and occupational therapists, if needed.

The plan also outlines the medical and support services required such as nursing care, personal care (dressing, bathing, etc.), social services, physician visits, counseling, and homemaker services. It also identifies the medical equipment, tests, procedures, medication and treatments necessary to provide high-quality comfort care.

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