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Understanding the Philosophy of Hospice Care

Hospice Care

Hospice care is the field of healthcare which offers care for patients in their last months of life. Hospice caretakers provide compassionate care, support, education and pain relief to patients whose doctors have determined they have a life-limiting condition.

Although hospice care is provided during the last phase of a patient's life, hospice staff members neither promote death nor seek to assist death to come more quickly. Their mission is to make the last chapter of a patient's life as comfortable as possible and to support the patient's family and loved ones as they walk this journey with the patient.

Who Are the Members of a Hospice Team?

As in most branches of healthcare, a hospice team requires several members to provide for all of the patient's needs. Here are some members commonly found on hospice teams:

Doctors

The hospice journey starts with a doctor who determines a patient has a disease or condition likely to end the patient's life in a short time.

Nurses

After the patient has an order for hospice, a nurse will examine each patient, gather diagnostic information and provide documentation to prove the patient meets the guidelines for medical insurance. After this initial visit, the nurse will formulate a care plan that will outline each patient's healthcare services. A nurse will then visit the patient on a scheduled basis to ensure they are still receiving the care they need. They will also determine when a change in medication or service is required. Nurses also educate patients and their families about the patient's disease, medications, and care.

Nursing Assistants

These workers are assigned tasks related to personal care. These workers will bathe the patient, shave and dress them and provide skin care. They will also assist with getting them out of bed and with helping them to walk. These workers also assist with housework, including making the patient's bed, preparing and serving food, and providing companionship.

Social Workers

These workers provide emotional support for patients and their families. They also assist with navigating insurance policies, obtaining equipment or assistance they need, and keeping family conflict at a minimum.

Chaplains

Chaplains provide spiritual support and assist patients and families seeking spiritual support during this chapter of their lives. Chaplains can assist with worship services, prayers, communion, or other religious rituals that assist patients with their spiritual concerns during this period of their lives.

Other hospice workers may be part of the team, including dietitians, respiratory therapists, pet therapists, music therapists, bereavement counsellors, and volunteers.

Delivery of Hospice Care

Hospice workers sometimes work in an agency that exclusively serves patients with terminal illnesses. The workers go into the patients' homes, into nursing homes, or they can provide care in a facility that exclusively houses hospice patients.

Hospice workers provide care in any setting the patient identifies as home. If patients or their families are looking for private home care, senior care, or care for those in the last stages of Alzheimer's disease. These workers stand ready to provide guidance for pain control, wound care, respiratory support, and disease education. When you contact a hospice agency, you can rest assured that you will receive care from dedicated and professional caregivers with special training in this field.

In essence: the philosophy of hospice care is to be present in the last chapter of a person's life. That presence can take many forms. After all, hospice care can't be done by one person. It requires each hospice worker to bring their different skills to the patient, whether it's from pain management to giving companionship. Hospice care is meant to provide an overall experience intended to assist the patient in having the best possible quality of life during the last chapter of their lives.

With so many people involved in hospice care, it clearly illustrates how many people understand the importance of one's mortality. After all, at some point, everyone dies. With that said, hospice care as a philosophy is inherently empathetic to this universal experience. In turn, it pays respect to the sanctity of life by providing a service that gives people dignity and happiness before their eventual passing. Hospice care ultimately provides comfort in the end that everyone should have.

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