What is Hospice Care?

what is hospice care"You matter because of who you are.
You matter to the last moment of your life,
and we will do all we can,
not only to help you die peacefully,
but also to live until you die."

-- Dame Cicely Saunders

Hospice cares for people at the end of their life, focusing on the whole person and all of their needs: physical, emotional, social and spiritual. The hospice concept is not new; in fact, hospices have provided comfort, kindness and spiritual nourishment to people in need for hundreds of years. Today's hospice programs offer that same tradition of comfort to people as they near the end of life's journey.

Hospice care is provided to those who, in consultation with their physicians, have decided that supportive rather than curative care is desired. The focus of hospice is comfort and quality of life. Despite the association of Hospice with terminal illness, the primary goal is to help people spend their time living as fully and completely as they wish, in their own familiar, comfortable surroundings, and in the company of family and friends.

Patients and their families and friends experience many conflicting emotions when faced with a life-threatening illness -- emotions such as fear, anger, loneliness and anxiety about the future. The hospice team can help both the patient and their loved ones cope with the experience of a life threatening illness in all its dimensions, physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual.

Hospice affirms a person's right to choice and to be in control of decision-making about their care. It is the role of the hospice team to present and discuss options with the patient and family, and to assist them in making informed healthcare decisions.

Basic to the concept of hospice is an acknowledgment that death is a part of life and a belief that there are opportunities for growth in all stages of life, including the last stage.