What is Hospice care?

Death is not something most people like to talk about. Thinking of the death of your loved one can give rise to many emotional and spiritual issues. It’s not an easy topic to talk about when it comes to family and caretakers. When death is approaching we either sulk in grief, losing hope, fear leaving everyone or we live bravely till the end. Hospice is a gift to help grieving families share the end of life experience with personal care. Family members appreciate the support and care given to them by the Hospice staff in facilitating a peaceful death.

Hospice gives comfort to people during the darkest hours and days of their lives. Personal care delivers compassion and supports dignity. Hospice simply means a hospital for the terminally ill, a house for the dying or a resting place for patients who cannot be cured. The environment is designed in a way to fulfill the emotional and physical needs of the patients and their loved ones. Hospice care aims at providing peace and comfort to the patient and their family. The care also provides the patient with social and psychological support.  Usually, patients who have a limited life expectancy are admitted to hospice homes.

Hospice care is a facility for all end-of-life patients. It provides services to patients in hospitals, their homes or hospice facility. The multidisciplinary hospice team includes professionals like Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Healthcare providers, Social workers, trained volunteers, and Clergy.

Hospice at time provide services at home help both the family and the patient. The caretakers at home can relax when a trained caretaker or a nurse is at work. Usually, the Hospice staff suggests the families share the end of life issues beforehand and people can discuss what they wish for. Besides the care and support, the Hospice care staff also provides several support services to the grieving families. The bond with the Hospice staff allows the family to deal with the approaching death and the end of life issues.

Mostly people take Hospice care at home, but there can be other sites for it as well:

  • Assisted living facility: Hospice care can be provided to patients who live in assisted living facilities, retirement homes or personal care homes. The services do not disturb their home setting.
  • Hospice care in a hospital setting: Hospitals also provide Hospice services to the terminally ill patients. Some hospitals have Hospice units too, that provide psychological and medical care to the patient when special attention is needed.
  • Freestanding Hospice units: When the patient needs medical care that is not appropriate for a home setting or when a primary caretaker is unavailable at home these independently owned Hospices provide inpatient care to the patient.
  • Long-term care Hospice: Long-term care homes and nursing homes, both have highly trained staff that deals with terminally ill people. Like the freestanding Hospices, the long-term care homes and nursing homes also provide Hospice services to patients who do not have a caretaker to look after them at home or patients who need medical care that is not suitable for a home setting.

Hospice care is given to provide comfort and ease for the patient. Medical treatments may be given to relieve the patient from any pain and discomfort, trying to make the death peaceful.

When the patient reaches a point where he is sure that recovering is just a dream, he may think about the reason of his illness, the meaning of his life and approaching death. It may be the most difficult phase of his life trying to mend the broken pieces of his heart and fighting back the tears.

The accepting spirit often gets closer to the family and friends knowing they have less time to spend together. A few things might help the patient during this time:

  • Involving them in activities they like and satisfy them.
  • Pray for family and friends.
  • Sharing family history and fond memories like pictures and family movies.
  • Not leaving them alone or idle for a grieving moment.
  • It hurts but hiding the emotional pain that comes with the dreadful situation.

The time of death is not predictable. When death is nearing the external world starts to diminish for the dying person. They lose interest in the present world. When signs of death are seen the family of the patient starts grieving which is a natural response to loss. The Hospice care staff provides the Bereavement support to the grieving family, which is a very important part of this method. It includes dealing with the anticipatory grief that prepares the family for the approaching death and an ongoing care giving process to help heal the pain one is going through. The team may guide the family in expressing their emotions to the patient with love and care. Grief and loss take time to heal. The Hospice team supports the family for a limited time with the help of a counselor to guide the survivors move forward.

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