What is hospice?
Hospice care is for people who are in the final stages of fighting an incurable illness. Hospice care is focused on making the patient feel cared for and comfortable in what is thought to be the last six months of life.
A patient in hospice care will receive pain medication and other treatments (fluid drainage, for example) to treat symptoms, but not to treat the cancer. Hospice care does not hasten death, but it does not deny it, either. Often, patients and their families welcome the gentle, dignified approach of cancer care when curative treatment is no longer possible.
Hospice care can be provided at home or at a hospice facility. The patient may have to visit the hospital for procedures, but is likely to spend most of his/her time at home or in a care facility with open access to family. Different hospice providers offer different levels of support, but all include part-time nursing, medical supplies for use at home, physical or occupational therapy, and 24 hour on-call nursing.
Find out more
To find out more about hospice programs, talk to the doctors, nurses, social workers or counselors you are working with. The palliative care teams at most hospitals can provide referrals to hospice organizations operating in your area. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization also offers an online provider directory.