Hospice, General Purpose of the Department:

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As we have learned, the hospice idea is not new. Literally meaning 'given to hospitality,' hospices provided comfort, kindness, and nourishment to people in need hundreds of years ago. Today, hospices offer comfort to people as they near the end of life's journey.

Hospice is a special way of caring for people with terminal illnesses and their families. It is a multidisciplinary health care program that is responsible for palliative and supportive care with consideration of the patient's and families wishes. Hospice focuses on care, not cure.

Hospice care is important because it provides many benefits that aren't possible in a traditional acute or long-term health care setting. Within hospice, the family of the patient is directly involved in making decisions and helping their loved one. Hospice also gives the patient to have a great amount of control by deciding where they want to spend the rest of their lives.

It can also help make choices about advanced directives which we will discuss shortly.

Major Functions of the Department:

Hospice is a very unique department because it truly looks at the 'big picture' and treats a spectrum of patient needs equally. Special attention is given to:

Physical needs - this is the first and foremost function. Within hospice you are dealing with a patient that has been given a diagnosis of having 6 months or less to live. For many patients, relieving pain through medication is an important part of hospice care. I have provided you with a list of ways that patients are made more comfortable. A goal of hospice it to help patients use their physical abilities as fully as possible.

Social Needs - Sometimes little things make all the difference to people. Although these patients may not be as active as before their illness, you can see...