What is Hospice?
Hospice is a form of health care provided to people facing a life-limiting illness and for whom curing the disease is no longer a realistic goal. Hospice provides medical care, including pain and symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support for the patient and for their loved-ones. A team of healthcare professionals work closely with the patient to develop a plan of care that focuses on meeting patient-directed goals for managing pain and other medical needs. The plan also focuses on helping to meet the patient's emotional, social, and spiritual needs. Hospice helps people to live as fully as possible, in comfort and with dignity.
When is it appropriate to ask about hospice? How does it begin?
You don’t have to wait until a physician brings up hospice to ask about it. The best time to learn about hospice and ask questions is before such services might be needed. Hospice care is available to people who are expected to live six months or less, no longer wish to pursue a cure and want to receive hospice care. Hospice care begins with a referral – usually from someone’s primary physician – but referrals can also be suggested by family members, friends, faith leaders, or health professionals. Hospice usually begins within 48 hours after a referral, but services may start faster in an urgent situation. For example, if someone is in a hospital, hospice care may be arranged to start upon discharge from the hospital.