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What is Hospice?
Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death. Hospice staff and volunteers offer a specialized knowledge of medical care, including pain management. The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of a patient's last days by offering comfort and dignity. Hospice care is provided by a team-oriented group of specially trained professionals, volunteers and family members. Hospice addresses all symptoms of a disease, with a special emphasis on controlling a patient's pain and discomfort. Hospice deals with the emotional, social and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and the patient's family and friends. Hospice offers a variety of bereavement and counseling services to families before and after a patient's death.
Before providing care, hospice staff meets with the patient's personal physician(s) and a hospice physician to discuss patient history, current physical symptoms and life expectancy. After an initial meeting with physicians, hospice staff meets with both the patient and their family. They discuss the hospice philosophy, available services and expectations. Prior to service, staff and patients also discuss pain and comfort levels, support systems, financial and insurance resources, medications and equipment needs. A "plan of care" is developed for the patient. This plan is regularly reviewed and revised according to patient condition. Bereavement services and counseling are typically available to loved ones for a year after the patient's death.
First, talk to your Case Manager.
Most patients admitted to a hospice program are referred by their physicians. Others come themselves or are referred by the hospital, a community agency or by a friend or relative. Family members may request counseling from the hospice care program even if the patient does not wish to be admitted to the program. If you are interested in learning about or getting hospice care talk to your physician or contact a hospice provider in your area.
Hospice care is covered by Medicare, the Oregon Health Plan and private insurance. Patients may be asked to meet co-pay or other uncovered costs. However, no one will ever be turned down for financial reasons.
There are also excellent volunteer hospices available
Hospice works in conjunction with the patient's physician providing care under a plan of treatment designed by the team in conjunction with the patient and family. Services include:
Hospice is not an off-shoot of any
religion. While some churches and religions have started hospices
(sometimes in connection with their hospitals), these hospices serve a
broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any particular
set of beliefs.
Hospice Foundation of America
National Hospice and Palliative Care
Volunteer Hospice Network www.growthhouse.org/hospice.html
Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse
The ALS Association Greater
Los Angeles Chapter • P.O. Box 565, Agoura Hills, CA 91376-0565, Tel: (818)