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Hospice Care Defined

Hospice Care

Hospice care is a term that most individuals have heard mentioned, yet are unaware of what exactly it entails. Hospice care is a type of palliative care that is primarily reserved for individuals who are deemed to be terminally ill. Individuals who are terminal cases and who have entered into their final months of life maintain specific needs, which must be addressed through unique methods of medical treatment. Hospice care is not intended to provide patients with curative treatment, and therefore, individuals who are seeking treatment to cure a medical condition should not enlist the aid of hospice care. While palliative treatment may be beneficial to an individual in such a situation, hospice care is specifically focused on supporting and comforting patients during their final weeks of life.


In early history, a hospice was a location in which monastic orders offered care and assistance to ill and dieing individuals, as well as to pilgrims and travelers. Today, the term "hospice" is generally associated with a form of palliative care that is reserved for terminally ill patients who are entering into their final stages of life. Though the term can still refer to a central location, the location is usually not as important as the type and quality of care, as treatment can be provided in numerous different locations. An individual may receive hospice care in his/her home, at a hospice facility, in a nursing home, or in a hospital. The goal of hospice care is not to cure a patient's illness, but to ensure that he/she remains comfortable until his/her death. This is generally accomplished by carefully monitoring a patient's condition and administering appropriated medication as needed, in order to decrease pain.


When an individual is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he/she will most likely experience fear and anxiety regarding his/her fate. Severe illnesses are often accompanied by severe pain and discomfort. Hospice care is intended to provide terminally ill individuals with comfort and support. Hospice physicians and nurses will employ palliative care techniques in order to diminish a patient's pain and suffering. However, physical comfort is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. The emotional pain experienced by terminally ill patients is often just as affecting as the physical pain. Hospice programs usually offer various forms of counseling and therapy to patients that wish to utilize these services. In many cases, patients will also have access to clergymen so that their spiritual needs are likewise met. Hospice care not only seeks to provide patients with appropriate palliative care and support, but also to decrease the responsibility that would otherwise be assumed by a patient's family. A family should enjoy the time that they have left with their loved one, as opposed to undertaking all aspects of a patient's care. If a family does assume the responsibility of caring for their loved one, though, hospice programs will provide them with any necessary help and assistance.


The type of hospice care that a patient receives will vary a great deal based on his/her specific situation. Every patient has a unique situation that requires different arrangements. It is common for terminally ill patients to request to be relocated to their home, where they will feel more comfortable and secure. However, this is not suitable for every patient. In many instances, a patient's family does not have the resources and assets necessary to care for a dying family member in their home. In other cases, caring for a loved one while they become increasingly less stable is emotionally devastating to witness. Therefore, many patients and their families choose to utilize hospice facilities for the remainder of the patient's time. At a hospice facility a patient will be able to receive constant medical attention, nurses will be available to ensure that patients are comfortable, and medication can be administered to diminish pain.

Home Hospice

When an individual is diagnosed with a terminal illness, often, the last place that he/she wants to spend his/her time is confined in a hospital or hospice facility. Many patients request to be relocated to their homes, so that they may remain comfortable and maintain their privacy. There are hospice programs that assist families in administer home care to their loved ones, as a large portion of hospice patients choose to spend their final days in their own home. Hospice employees will educate families on the proper methods of caring for their loved one and prepare them for the responsibility that they will shoulder. Providing home care to a terminally ill loved one is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Therefore, hospice volunteers and employees will frequently visit homes in order to provide relief to home caregivers for a short period of time. Hospice nurses will, too, teach family members how to administer essential medication. Once an individual obtains the knowledge and the tools to administer care to a patient, it is possible for a terminally ill individual to be cared for in full at home.

Children's Hospices

When people think of hospitals and hospice facilities, they generally imagine elderly individuals battling illness and disease. Individuals commonly picture older patients being comforted during the last few days of their lives. When people imagine thee facilities they rarely picture images of terminally ill children being prepared for death. However, there are children's hospices that are dedicated solely to the care of terminally ill children. These children have not responded to treatment and as a result, they have a short life expectancy. A hospice will have the ability to provide these children with constant care and comfort. There are various different reasons that a family may choose to relocate an ill child to the care of a hospice. In some instances, hospices have the ability to provide sick children with more thorough and complete care than their families are able to provide. In other instances, the responsibility of caring for an ill child causes a family to experience detrimental stress and anxiety. Children's hospices are suitable for the situations of many different families.

Hospice Nurses

Becoming a hospice nurse takes a great deal of passion and determination. The process of becoming a nurse is long and arduous, requiring many years of education and training. Becoming a hospice nurse is an even more difficult process, involving specialized training as a hospice worker and detailed certification exams needed to be passed. Once an individual completes all of the necessary requirements and becomes a registered hospice nurse, he/she will be required to work an often upsetting job. While employment as a hospice nurse may be very rewarding, it is also, for many, emotionally draining. An individual employed in a hospice often becomes close with patients with the knowledge that they have a short life expectancy. Despite this frequent pain and disappointment, many individuals choose to become hospice nurses in order to have the ability to provide comfort and support to individuals during their last weeks of life. A hospice nurse maintains the knowledge that he/she was responsible for improving patients quality of life at the end of their time on Earth.

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