Hospice supports patients and their families during the last stage of life. It is a concept of care that focuses on patient comfort.
Nurses and doctors work to control pain and other symptoms. When patients are more comfortable, they can enjoy their final days with loved ones or tend to unresolved issues.
According to The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, “The focus of hospice relies on the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our loved ones will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. The focus is on caring, not curing and in most cases, care is provided to you in your own home. Hospice can be provided in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Hospice is available to persons of any age, religion or race.”
A multidisciplinary team of hospice caregivers provides palliative care. The team generally includes a doctor, nurses, aides, social workers, clergy, and volunteers. They address the medical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients and families.
Hospice provides most services in patients’ homes. But care is also given in nursing homes or hospice houses. A hospice physician may admit a patient to a hospice unit to bring symptoms under control or to give the family caregiver a break.
Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers usually cover hospice care, when doctors believe the patient has six months or less to live. Under the Medicare benefit, hospice assumes financial responsibility for all care associated with the terminal illness. This may include a hospital bed, medications, medical supplies or a wheelchair, in addition to visits by the hospice team.
A program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), is a national consumer engagement initiative to improve care at the end of life, supported by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Caring Connections provides free resources and information to help people make decisions about end-of-life care and services. To learn more information about hospice services, visit the Caring Connections website at: http://www.caringinfo.org
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