Hospice refers to medical care that is administered to patients with a terminal illness. The primary goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and improved quality of life to patients in the last days, weeks, or months of their terminal illness.
Hospice is similar to palliative care in that both aim to provide comfort and support to patients living with serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses. The difference, in this case, is that hospice care is only administered to those patients who have elected to stop their regular course of treatment and who are—in most cases—within their last six months of life.
Both hospice and palliative care engage an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals intended to provide physical, emotional, social, and spiritual relief to a patient and their loved ones. The services that these hospice care workers provide include:
- Medication to control symptoms or relieve pain
- Medical equipment like wheelchairs or walkers
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Dietary counseling
- Short-term inpatient care
- Short-term respite care
- Grief and loss counseling for both the patient and their loved ones
Because patient comfort is the most important objective, hospice care can be administered in a variety of different settings—whether that’s in a home, hospital, assisted living facility, nursing home, or even a designated hospice facility. What’s most important, in this case, is that a patient feels comfortable and at ease during their hospice care.