Hospice Care

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice is an old tradition dating back to the Middle Ages when religious orders opened their doors to weary pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, offering them protection, refreshment and fellowship. Today, hospice has come to mean another kind of community -- doctors, nurses, counselors, clergy and volunteers -- caring for other kinds of travelers -- the dying and their families.

When disease is beyond cure, hospice care focuses on assisting the terminally ill person to live the life that's left as fully as possible. Hospice includes the entire family in its network of support, providing not only symptom management and relief from pain for the patient, but emotional and spiritual support for both patient and family during the illness and, for the family, on into the time of bereavement.

A philosophy of care rather than a specific place, hospice can be found wherever caring people come together to bring comfort and compassion to those in need. This may be in a in-patient facility, a nursing home or, most frequently, at home where most people in the last days of their lives want to be.