Hospice is a specialized type of care that offers compassionate support for individuals suffering from life-limiting illnesses, as well as their families. The ultimate goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of life of patients and their loved ones during the remaining months or weeks, instead of trying to cure the underlying disease.

Hospice care does not hasten or postpone death, but rather affirms life by managing a patient’s pain and symptoms to ensure they can live each day as fully and comfortably as possible. To achieve this, a team-oriented approach is taken to provide expert medical care, pain management, and symptom relief. In addition to comfort for the patient, most caregivers state the practical support and guidance regarding how to care for their loved one is immeasurable.

Compassionate Hospice Services

“Hospice” may seem too final or intimidating to families, but in reality, it provides services well beyond pain management. Hospice care teams are available round-the-clock, at night, on weekends, and holidays to provide emotional, spiritual, psychosocial, and practical support to both patients and their families. Hospice professionals come alongside families to offer presence, peace of mind, and dignity.

Hospice services include:

  • Medical care, including medication for pain control, medical supplies, and equipment.
  • Support with daily activities and personal care.
  • Education and assistance for caregivers.
  • Specialized therapy services, companionship, and supportive community resources.
  • Access to hospice support 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • Bereavement services for loved ones to help them cope with the loss of a family member.

For more, read these common Myths and Facts about Hospice. Read here for Eligibility and Paying for Hospice.

In-Home Hospice vs. Inpatient Hospice

Hospice services are delivered in the place the patient calls home, which could be a private residence, nursing home, or residential facility. If required, hospice care can also be offered in a hospice inpatient facility or in a contracted hospital.

In-home hospice is provided wherever the patient calls home. This setting is best for patients who prefer to remain in familiar surroundings or the home of a family member or friend. Patients can also remain in their personal care home, assisted living community or skilled nursing home where they may have a strong support system in place. In-home hospice care, the most common, is typically provided on a long-term basis, often for several months or longer.

In-home hospice care provides patients with more autonomy and control over their care, as they are able to receive care in the comfort of their own home. Patients are able to maintain their daily routines and enjoy time with family and friends. Home hospice care also allows family members and caregivers to be more involved in the care process and provide emotional support to their loved ones.

Inpatient hospice is provided in a dedicated hospice facility or a hospital with a contracted hospice bed. This setting is best for patients who require more intensive medical care or symptom management that cannot be provided in a home setting. Inpatient hospice care is typically provided on a short-term basis, usually for a few days.

Inpatient hospice care provides a high level of medical support and supervision, which can be especially important for patients who require complex medical treatments or have challenging symptoms. The medical staff is available 24/7 to provide round-the-clock care, and patients have access to specialized medical equipment and resources.

Both inpatient and in-home hospice care provide a comprehensive approach to end-of-life care, including pain and symptom management, emotional support, and spiritual care. The hospice care setting (home or inpatient) depends on the patient’s medical needs, personal preferences, and available resources.

Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care: Understanding the Differences

Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on managing the physical and emotional impact of serious illnesses, providing effective communication, coordinating care, and relieving pain, stress, and other debilitating symptoms. Palliative care can be given at any time during a patient’s illness and does not depend on the prognosis, which means it can be offered even while pursuing a cure.

The main difference between hospice and palliative care is that hospice care is exclusively for individuals with life-limiting illnesses, while palliative care can be offered to patients with any serious illness, regardless of their life expectancy and alongside curative treatments. While not offered with concurrent curative treatments, hospice services are more inclusive, covering medications, medical equipment, medical supplies, nursing and home health aide services.

In conclusion, hospice and palliative care services aim to enhance the quality of life of patients suffering from serious illnesses and their families. Hospice and palliative care teams offer comprehensive support to ensure patients are comfortable, physically and emotionally, and their loved ones are supported throughout their journey. Read the FAQs of Hospice Versus Palliative Care.

If you think it may be time for hospice care, talk to your doctor and read these additional resources: