THE BASICS OF HOSPICE
As provided by The National Hospice Organization (item #711135)
The term 'hospice' (from the same linguistic root
as 'hospitality') can be traced back to early Western
Civilization when it was used to describe a place of shelter and
rest for weary or sick travelers on long journeys. The term was
first applied to specialized care for dying patients in 1967,
at St. Christopher's Hospice in a residential suburb of
London. Today, the term 'hospice' refers to a steadily
growing concept of humane and compassionate care which can be
implemented in a variety of settings -- in patients'
homes, in hospitals, or in freestanding inpatient facilities.
The Hospice Philosophy
Hospice is a special kind of care designed to provide sensitivity
and support for people in the final phase of a terminal illness.
Hospice care seeks to enable patients to carry on an alert, pain-free
life and to manage other symptoms so that their last days may
be spent with dignity and quality at home or in a home-like setting.
How Hospice Works
Hospice services are available to persons who can no longer benefit
from curative treatment; the typical hospice patient has a life
expectancy of six months or less. Most receive care at home.
Services are provided by a team of trained professionals - physicians,
nurses, counselors, therapists, aides, and volunteers - who
provide medical care and support services not only to the patient,
but to the entire family. The patient is usually referred to
hospice by the primary physician. Referrals can also be made
by family members, friends, clergy, or health professionals.
(The services described may also be provided by Hospice in
a nursing home. How a nursing home accesses Hospice differs from
facility to facility. Ask the social worker or any member of
the nursing staff to find out more about how to have Hospice help.)
How Hospice Differs from Other Types of Healthcare
- Hospice offers palliative, rather than curative, treatment.
Under the direction of a physician, hospice uses sophisticated
methods of pain and symptom control that enable the patient to
live as fully and comfortably as possible.
- Hospice treats the person, not the disease. The interdisciplinary
hospice team is made up of professionals who address the medical,
emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of the patient and
- Hospice emphasizes quality, rather than length of life.
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death: it affirms life
and regards dying as a normal process. The hospice movement stresses
human values that go beyond the physical needs of the patient.
- Hospice considers the entire family, not just the patient,
the 'unit of care.' Patients and families are
included in the decision-making process, and bereavement counseling
is provided to the family after the death of their loved one.
- Hospice offers help and support to the patient and family
on a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week basis. For hospice
patients and their families, help is just a phone call away.
Patients routinely receive periodic in-home services of a nurse,
home health aide, social worker, volunteer, and other members
of the hospice interdisciplinary team.
Who Pays for Hospice Care?
Studies have shown hospice care to be no more costly - and frequently
less expensive - than conventional care during the last six months
of life. This is because less high-cost technology is used, and
family, friends, and volunteers provide much of the day-to-day
patient care at home.
Hospice care is a covered benefit under most private insurance
plans. In addition, hospice is a covered benefit, and
in some states is a covered Medicaid benefit.
The Hospice Benefit Covers:
- Nursing services on an intermittent basis
- Physician services
- Drugs, including outpatient drugs for pain relief and symptom management
- Physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy
- Home health aide and homemaker services
- Medical supplies and appliances
- Short-term inpatient care, including respite care
- Medical social services
- Spiritual, dietary, and other counseling
- Continuous care during periods of crisis
- Trained volunteers
- Bereavement services
Although hospice services are often covered by insurance, such
payments rarely cover the full cost of care. Hospices must therefore
rely to a great extent on grants and community support.
While each hospice has its own policies concerning payment for
care, it is a principle of hospice to offer services based upon
need, rather than the ability to pay.
For More Information
For more information about hospice or for referral to a hospice
program operating in your area, call NHO's toll-free Hospice
Helpline at 800-658-8898.
Or contact NHO's offices at:
1901 N. Moore St., Suite 901
Arlington, VA 22209
|Or Contact Hospice at:|
Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod
765 Attucks Lane
Hyannis, MA 02601
Beacon Hospice and Palliative Care
259 Willow Street
Yarmouthport, MA 02675
73 Service Road
East Sandwich, MA 02537
Broad Reach Hospice
390 Orleans Road
Chatham MA 02650
Life Choice Care and Comfort
15 Cape Lane
Brewster MA 02631
Mary McCarthy Hospice House
For information on Hospice House
call Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod at
Charlesbank Hospice Care|
111 Headwaters Drive
Harwich, MA 02645
Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod|
Hospice and Palliative Care
434 Route 134, Suite G-1
South Dennis, MA 02660
Allegiance Hospice & Palliative Care|
67 Middle Street
Lowell, MA 01852
|Hospice of Nantucket
@ Cottage Hospital:
|P.O. Box 2549
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557
|57 Prospect Street
Nantucket, MA 02554
|36 Cordage Park Circle|
Plymouth, MA 02360
Medicare Hospice Benefits (pdf)
The official government booklet for Medicare hospice benefits with important information about the following:
National Hospice Association
- The hospice program and who is eligible
- Your Medicare hospice benefits
- How to find a hospice program
- Where you can get more help
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is the largest nonprofit membership
organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.