How Hospice Works

Hospice care is for people are nearing the end of life. Hospice care isn’t just for people who have cancer. Many people who receive hospice care have heart disease, dementia, kidney failure, HIV/AIDS or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Hospice can be provided for as long as the patient’s doctor and hospice care team certify that the condition remains life-limiting.

Unlike other medical care, the focus of hospice isn’t to cure the underlying disease; the goal is to support the highest quality of life for whatever time remains. The decision to choose hospice care can be difficult as the patient and family need to accept the shift in focus from curative treatments, to comfort treatments.

Enrolling in hospice care early helps patients live better and live longer. Hospice care decreases the burden on the family, decreases the family’s likelihood of having a complicated bereavement, and prepares family members for their loved one’s death.

Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a form request, or a “referral” is made by the patient’s physician. Hospice care is usually ready to begin within 24 hours of the referral, providing the arrangements meet the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver.

After hospice is elected; a coordinated team of hospice professionals, assisted by volunteers, works to meet the patient’s and family’s emotional and spiritual needs, as well as the patient’s physical needs. The emphasis is on controlling pain and symptoms through the most advanced techniques available; as well as having emotional and spiritual support tailored to the needs of the patient and family. All visits are based on the patient and family needs, and the condition of the patient during the course of illness. Hospice recognizes that a serious illness affects the entire family as well as the person who is ill. 

Hospice care is also available “on-call” after the administrative office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Several nurses monitor the phone lines, and make after-hours visits as needed.

Hospice also remains available to the surviving family for bereavement support for as long as you need.