Hospice is a concept of caring derived from medieval times, symbolizing a place where travelers, pilgrims and the sick, wounded or dying could find rest and comfort. The contemporary hospice offers a comprehensive program of care to patients and families facing a life threatening illness. Hospice is primarily a concept of care, not a specific place of care.
Hospice emphasizes palliative rather than curative treatment; quality rather than quantity of life. The dying are comforted. Professional medical care is given, and sophisticated symptom relief provided. The patient and family are both included in the care plan and emotional, spiritual and practical support is given based on the patient’s wishes and family’s needs. Trained volunteers can offer respite care for family members as well as meaningful support to the patient.
Hospice affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice provides personalized services and a caring community so that patients and families can attain the necessary preparation for a death that is satisfactory to them.
Those involved in the process of dying have a variety of physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs. The nature of dying is so unique that the goal of the hospice team is to be sensitive and responsive to the special requirements of each individual and family.
Hospice care is provided to patients who have a limited life expectancy. Although most hospice patients are cancer patients, hospices accept anyone regardless of age or type of illness. These patients have also made a decision to spend their last months at home or in a homelike setting.