Hospice Facts


What is Hospice?

Hospice care is a specialized service to care for individuals facing a terminal illness. While these illnesses are not curable, hospice expertly manages pain and other symptoms and specializes in improving and maintaining quality of life. Hospice care helps patients and their families cope with terminal illness and make the most of the days that remain, allowing them to focus on what’s important to them.

Hospice is about treating the whole person – mind, body and spirit, and to honor life, and offer comfort and dignity to both the patient and family who are facing a terminal illness. It is a plan of care that is personalized for each patient’s and family’s needs using a team approach. Hospice staff includes doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, spiritual care providers, volunteers, and other professionals as needed.

How Does Hospice Help?

Hospice is not a place, but a philosophy of care that accepts death as the final stage of life: it affirms life, but does not try to hasten or postpone death. Hospice cares for the person, not the disease. It is a unique health care approach in which the patient and family, not the disease, are the focus. Hospice’s mission is to ensure a person’s last days are spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by loved ones.

Hospice encompasses a team of health professionals to care for the patient, and relieve anxiety for the family or caregiver. Hospice nurses are skilled in pain and symptom management, and work closely with a support team to help patients and families with personal care, social, emotional and grief issues. The hospice team also offers guidance through the unknown, connections with needed resources, and friendship and comfort throughout the remaining time, and even after the patient’s death.

Here’s a list of what you can expect hospice to provide:

  • Regular visits by a nurse and other hospice staff
  • Consultations from hospice physicians, as needed
  • Expert management of pain and other symptoms, such as problems breathing or swallowing
  • Needed medications, medical equipment and supplies to care for the patient
  • Coordination of the patient’s care and medications with all of the patient’s medical providers, including the patient’s own doctors, hospice doctors, nurses, caregivers and other staff
  • Expert guidance and support for those caring for the patient, including information about the patient’s condition, and how to best care for the patient’s medical and personal care needs
  • Emotional and spiritual support for both the patient and their family during this phase of life

Who is Eligible for Hospice?

Hospice care is for people who have a life expectancy of six months or less, and have chosen to focus on pain and symptom relief over aggressive or curative treatment. Diagnoses commonly associated with hospice care include these and other terminal diseases:

  • Heart Disease
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Liver/Renal Failure
  • Cancer
  • Neurologic Diseases
  • Stroke or Coma

Eligibility criteria include frequent hospitalizations, progressive weight loss, deteriorating mental abilities, frequent infections, and/or an overall decline in condition. Speak with your physician or a local hospice provider for additional information or an evaluation for eligibility.