What is Hospice?

Hospice is a program of care for the terminally ill. It comprises a team of health care professionals including the patient’s doctor, nurses, social workers and various support staff members to administer to the care and well being of a patient after treatment options for their disease have been exhausted.

The goal of the hospice program is to achieve patient comfort and safety. The focus becomes the management of symptoms after treatment options for the patient’s disease have failed.

The patient remains in his or her home or facility and nurses come frequently to check on the patient and to teach caregivers how to manage common symptoms such as; pain, discomfort, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, bed sores, breathing problems and care issues hospice care service  associated with a patient who is frequently bed ridden and suffering a progressive illness.

Most unpleasant symptoms are well managed with medications. The hospice nurse will teach caregivers how to safely use medications and oxygen to treat discomfort and what to expect as the patient’s health declines. For example, patients frequently do not want to eat and may sleep most of the day. They may need to be turned or repositioned in the bed. They may be incontinent. The nurse will teach caregivers how to attend to these conditions.

Many times hospice services, medications and equipment are paid for by the Medicare hospice benefit or private insurance.

Most people do not know how to manage end of life issues. It is a scary and depressing time. The hospice team will assist patient, family and caregivers to manage the symptoms unique to a dying patient and to provide support to family members as they undertake the difficult tasks of care giving.


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