Hospices offer end-of-life care for patients suffering from terminal disease or advanced age. Providing patient and family support, hospices look after individuals in their home or in a hospice facility, where they receive care from nurses, staff and volunteers.
- Hospice provides general services that include medical care, therapy and daily task assistance. Nurses give direct medical care to all hospice patients and act as liaisons between patients and their primary physicians. Psychologists and other trained staff assist with speech, occupational or other forms of therapy for the patients. Individuals also may receive daily task assistance from volunteers and staff, including bathing, dressing and eating.
- Some patients reaching the end of their life choose to stay at home rather than enter a facility or hospital, and enlist the assistance of a hospice nurse to provide care as needed. While nurses may follow a set visitation schedule, they are available on a 24-hour basis in case of emergency or other need. If a patient’s situation worsens or the family is unable to provide adequate support, hospice offers temporary care and patient housing within a hospice facility.
- Nurses in hospice facilities care directly for each patient on a 24-hour basis. They monitor vital signs, provide medications and alert family members to changes in care as well as the patient’s condition and recommended treatment. They also act as a liaison between the patient’s primary physician and the family. Physicians visit hospice facilities as needed or on a schedule. Volunteers assist the hospice nurses in providing company for the patients, assisting with home care or providing professional services as needed.
Family and Loved Ones Support
- Not only does hospice provide support service for the terminally ill or others reaching the end of their life, but it also supports and cares for family and friends. For example, hospice offers bereavement and grief counseling for those affected by the loss of a loved one. This includes psychologist or volunteer meetings, in-home checkups on a grieving individual, or occasional phone calls or emails to ensure the individual copes with the loss in a healthy manner. In some cases, social workers evaluate a patient’s case to determine the best living scenario depending on family dynamics or financial situation.