Hospice Care

What is Hospice Care?

During an illness that is terminal, you or your loved ones may talk with your doctor and decide the treatments meant to cure or slow a disease are no longer working, or you’re ready to stop them. Your doctor can make a referral for hospice care, also known as end-of-life care. You want relief from pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms so that you can focus on the people and things you care about the most. That’s when hospice, or end-of-life care, may help.


When Can I Join Hospice Care

You may enter a program if your doctor states that you have a terminal illness and that death can be expected in 6 months or less. You can stay in hospice beyond that time if your doctor and the team decide you still have only a short time to live.

Hospice isn’t always a permanent choice.

For example, if your kidneys are failing, you might choose the hospice program rather than continuing with dialysis. But you can still change your mind, stop hospice care, and start back on treatments. Other people may get better unexpectedly and quit the service with the option of returning later.

Can I Stay at Home – and Should I?

Hospice offers four levels of care, two of which happen at home. The four levels are:

  • Routine Home Care. The most common level of hospice care, this includes nursing and home health aide services.
  • Continuous Home Care. This is when a patient needs continuous nursing care during a time of crisis.
  • General Inpatient Care. Short-term care during times when pain and symptoms can’t be managed without a hospital setting.
  • Respite Care. Short-term care in a facility during times when the patient’s caregiver needs a break in caregiving.

Path to well being

Hospice care can occur wherever patients are spending their final days. This includes a home, hospital, nursing home, or hospice facility. Members of the hospice team try to help patients be as pain-free as possible. They also try to help them be at peace with themselves and their illness. At the same time, the hospice team provides support, education, and counseling to family members and friends. If the patient is in a nursing home, the team will offer support to staff and other residents as well.

There are several services included in hospice care. These include:

  • Providing around-the-clock nursing care.
  • Training family members in patient care, if needed.
  • Offering spiritual and emotional support for the patient and the family.
  • Helping with practical matters related to terminal illness, such as wills, finances, and end-of-life directives.
  • Providing speech, occupational, and physical therapies.
  • Coordinating care with the patient’s family doctor.
  • Managing pain and other symptoms.
  • Offering grief and death support groups for families.

If the decision is made to move to hospice care, Dr. Hassan talks to the patient and their loved ones to explore options. “The goal of hospice is to allow the patient to be comfortable and at peace,” he adds. “Being a patient is very taxing, particularly someone battling cancer. With that said, the decision to begin hospice care is a very personal one and should be made carefully with a patient’s family and doctor.”

Things to Consider

Bereavement support helps people cope with the loss of a loved one. Grief is a normal emotion for people to have in relation to death. It is common for family, friends, and caregivers when a loved one passes away. There is no timetable or calendar for grief. People experience grief in different ways. Many people feel anger, loneliness, guilt, confusion, and fear when a loved one dies. It helps to talk about these feelings and the person who passed away.

Hospice care is committed to helping people who are grieving. Hospice teams offer warm, professional support to help family members. Teams may provide emotional healing or assist with lifestyle changes. Hospice respects the natural dying process. It provides patients and family members with an opportunity for spiritual growth during this final phase of life.