What is Hospice?

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.

Why is hospice important in healthcare?

Hospice plays an important part in end-of-life care by allowing patients to feel in control of their end-of-life journey and, in most cases, to die within the comfort of their own homes.

By focusing on patient comfort and quality of life, hospice caregivers provide patients and their families with the support and guidance that they need most in order to endure this difficult time.