Patient Referral
Employee Referral
Make A Donation

How Hospice Became Hospice Care

Saturday, October 10 marks World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, with this year’s theme being Palliative Care: it’s “My Care, My Comfort.” This day of action was created to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care globally. We thought it would be a great time to explore how hospice became hospice care in San Francisco and elsewhere. First off, let’s go over some facts about hospice. What is it?

  • Hospice care is a service that can be provided in many locations, such as in a home, in a hospital, in a nursing home, or in a specialized facility.
  • Hospice doesn’t hasten or prolong death.
  • It is recommended for patients who have less than six months to live, as decided by their doctor, as well as an incurable illness for which the primary focus of care is comfort.
  • The goal is to offer comfort, reduce suffering, and preserve the patient’s dignity.
  • Hospice patients are cared for by a whole team comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, volunteers, clerics, and therapists.

In general, hospice is a field of medicine focusing on the comprehensive care of patients who have terminal illnesses, says MedicineNet. It’s not so much a place as it is a service to offer support, resources, and assistance to patients and their families. The main goal is to offer a symptom-free, peaceful, and dignified transition to death for those who have diseases that have advanced beyond a cure. In palliative care, the hope is for a cure. In hospice care, the hope shifts to a life that is free of suffering. The focus, then, is on quality of life rather than how long that life is.

The History of Hospice

Hospices started out as designated places of care for the terminally ill, popping up in Ireland and England at the end of the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1967 that the modern concept of hospice was developed in England by Dr. Cicely Saunders. Hospice in the United States was originally run by volunteers who would care for dying patients. Fast forward to the 1980s, when Medicare authorized formal hospice care, making Medicare hospice benefits an integral part of Medicare Part A. Today, state-run insurances and Medicaid offer hospice benefits, as well as some private insurances.

About 1.55 million patients are taken care of through hospice services in the United States currently, according to Statista. This branch of the medical field is continuing to grow at a rapid pace as people are living longer with chronic conditions.

Today’s hospice services not only treat the dying, but they treat the family as well, with support services, groups, workshops, and more. Hospices are taking an increasingly holistic approach to care, offering pain treatments, grief counseling, and a host of other services to help people with life-limiting illness and their family members enjoy the highest quality of life possible under the circumstances.

Services Hospice Provides

Services provided under hospice will vary with the patients’ needs and medical conditions. General services include:

  • Routine evaluation and medical assessment by a doctor
  • Frequent nurse visits on a daily or weekly depending on needs and condition
  • Spiritual counseling
  • Social worker evaluation
  • Volunteer services
  • Dietary services
  • Pharmacy services
  • Home health aids

When it comes to medications, hospice will supply medications that help to manage and control the symptoms of the underlying condition. Medical equipment and supplies are also provided, such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen tanks, wound care supplies, nutritional supplements, diapers, and urinary catheters.

Home Hospice Care

When the concept of hospice first started out, it was referred to as a place where terminally ill patients would go to die. Today, it’s so much more than that. That “place” is often the person’s own home. While it can be provided in a variety of settings, with the location being based on each individual’s preferences, most hospice patients wish to remain in their home or usual residence (a nursing home or long-term care facility) where they lived prior to qualifying for hospice.

Hospice care may be offered wherever the patient lives, provided the environment is safe and the intensity or level of care doesn’t overwhelm either the patient or the caregivers. Sometimes, patients must be moved to a nursing facility or other health care setting if home care becomes impossible, usually due to uncontrolled symptoms requiring close monitoring or a need for a higher personal care level.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Here at Pathways Home Health and Hospice, we have been at this for a long time — more than 40 years in fact. We were established in 1977 by physicians and community members to quickly become a Bay Area leader in hospice care, palliative care, and home health care. We offer care in the home setting or off-site settings such as hospitals, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. To learn more about how hospice became hospice care, please contact us at 888-978-1306.