Is Hospice a Place Where One Goes to Die?

When many people hear the word hospice, they think of a quiet, home-like facility where the very sick individuals and elderly individuals of society go to die. Many people associate the term hospice with death, mourning, sadness, and the end of life. While in some situations that may be the case, thats not all that hospice is.

Personal care assistant chatting with older woman in bed
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Hospice Isn't Just a Place People Go to Die

While there are inpatient hospice facilities in many communities throughout the United States, hospice is much more than a place where one goes to die. The inpatient facilities provide patients with a place to go if necessary, but most hospice care actually occurs at the patient's home or another place of comfort.

Technically, hospice isn't even a place. Rather, hospice is a concept of care that focuses on comfort for the patient rather than cure. It is a model of care built around managing physical symptoms of a patient, such as pain, anxiety, and shortness of breath, and trying to make the most of the present moment, rather than dwelling on the uncertainties of the future. Hospice looks to help patients enjoy their later seasons of life. Hospice also aims to support a patient and the friends and family of a patient emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Hospice Home Care

Hospice care is really designed to provide care in the patient’s own home setting. Patients tend to be most comfortable in their own home, so home is where hospice care typically occurs. "Home" may be the patient’s house, the house of a loved one who is caring for the patient, or a long-term care or nursing facility. Staying at home is what most dying patients prefer and hospice can offer support to patients, their families, friends, and caregivers to help that become a reality.

Aides help to make home hospice care a possibility. Specifically, a hospice home health aide, also commonly referred to as an HHA, is trained to provide personal care to patients in their own home. Home health aides may be hired privately by patients or their families or provided directly by a hospice agency. If you have any questions about how you can obtain home health services, you should talk with your physician or case manager nurse.

Inpatient hospice facilities are designed to provide care to patients who need more skilled care more often than family or other caregivers can provide at home. Ideally, these facilities staff nurses and home health aides who are skilled in providing end-of-life care and have a medical director who specializes in palliative care.

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