What is Hospice?
The concept of hospice has been a part of the way people have helped each other for generations. The word comes from “hospitality,” signifying care given to travelers and strangers. Today, the concept of hospice has become associated with a way of caring for terminally ill people and their families. The coordinated program of services called hospice is designed to meet the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of patients and families in their final days of life. The hospice concept says the final stages of life should be lived fully, with as much comfort and dignity as possible.
Hospice is a special kind of caring for dying people, their families and caregivers. Hospice:
- takes place in a patient’s home or home-like setting
- helps make the patient as comfortable as possible, so they can make the most of each day
- focuses on support of the family
- believes quality of life is as important as length of life
- seeks to add life to days vs days to life
Hospice is also a movement. Dame Cicely Saunders founded the first modern hospice in London in 1968; the movement spread to the United States in the early seventies. Modern medicine had made major advances, including the hospital as the primary place for healthcare, including deaths. In former times, the home had been the primary place where people died and families gave care. Clergy, healthcare workers and others grew concerned that the dying process might be completed better outside of hospital environments. Patients and families would have more control over the final days and hours. Out of these concerns, and the London work of Dame Cicely, the modern hospice movement in the United States was born. Today, patients who choose hospice care die at home, or in a hospice facility, rather than in a hospital. 3HC strives to meet all needs expressed in The Dying Person’s Bill of Rights.
The Hospice Philosophy
Hospice affirms life. Hospice exists to provide support and care for persons in the last phases of incurable disease, so that they might live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice recognizes dying as a normal process, and does not seek to hasten or postpone death. Hospice exists in the home and belief that, through appropriate care, and the promotion of a caring community sensitive to their needs, patients and families may be free to attain a degree of mental and spiritual preparation for death that is satisfactory to them.