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What to Expect From Hospice Care

What Is Hospice Care?: Page 2

By , Caring.com Senior Editor
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If a patient requires elaborate medical care and monitoring, hospice care may be given in a building dedicated to hospice, or in a hospital or skilled nursing facility -- generally in specific rooms or wards decorated with touches such as curtains and couches to lend a more homelike feeling.

In hospice facilities, the usual rules on visiting hours and mealtime schedules are relaxed. Visitors are generally free to come and go as they wish, and meals are often family favorites. Again, the aim is to make the patient feel as comfortable and cared for as possible.

The fact that hospice care usually comes in a peaceful setting and is often given by people the patient knows and loves rather than administered in cold, clinical surroundings is one significant aspect that sets it apart from other types of traditional medical care. But there are many other differences:

  • Personalized care. Hospice care is more personal and personalized than regular medical care. The most crucial thing is to ensure that the care fits the patient's wishes and offers the most comfort possible -- a challenge and an opportunity generally not available in conventional medical settings.

It's not uncommon to hear that hospice workers make superhuman efforts to pay attention to detail and help maintain a dying person's dignity. They may try to make sure the patient gets the food he or she likes best or to make sure his or her clothes are clean and fresh.

  • Hospice care from a team. Typically, hospice care is a team effort, combining the talents and training of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and trained volunteers. Their joint efforts are focused on relieving symptoms and alleviating side effects of pain control medications -- and on giving social, emotional, and spiritual support.

Workers at hospice organizations coordinate and supervise the care that comes from various outside sources. But if you or any family members are able, you'll be responsible for administering much of the hands-on care, such as administering medicines and changing dressings. If a caregiver or family members aren't equipped to do this, hospice workers may help secure other caregivers to take over or contribute to the work.

A hospice case manager will usually be assigned to make sure that all care needs are met -- and to coordinate the comings and goings of all involved, which is especially important if the care is at home.