Each year, November is designated as Hospice and Palliative Care Month in the United States. One of the goals of this month is to increase public awareness of hospice care in a meaningful manner. Hospice care consists primarily of relieving pain and other symptoms and of offering emotional and spiritual support to patients and their families.
It is generally considered that hospice care is required by people who have a limited illness with a life expectancy of usually six months or less. Some hospice patients pass away within weeks of enrolling in the hospice program, while others pass away months or years later. There is a large number of hospice patients that are cared for in their own homes, but some people may go to hospice centers or hospitals for their care.
Hospice care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, pastoral counselors, volunteers, home healthcare aides, and other medical specialists, who are specially trained to provide this type of care. There are also many hospices that provide other types of therapies, such as music therapy, pet therapy, art therapy, and counseling.
It is the goal of hospice care to improve the quality of life of the patient as much as possible. Patients will develop a treatment plan that can include therapy for pain relief, meds for anxiety and insomnia, and assistance with personal hygiene maintenance. As well as providing or scheduling hospice services such as nursing care, physical therapy, home-making services, and assistance with medication and appointments, the team may also provide other types of care as well.
A hospice service is available to some patients at the end of their lives, and it may be the only option available to others suffering from conditions such as cancer, end stage renal disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is common for family caregivers to receive training and counseling in order to assist them in dealing with the illness of their loved one.
Dame Cicely Saunders began the hospice movement in 1960 with the name hospice from the Greek word meaning a house. General practitioner Saunders was one of the top doctors in the United Kingdom. There was a deep-seated belief within her that people should not be made to suffer unnecessarily at the end of their lives. Nowadays, hospice care is available for more than 1.5 million Americans every year.
During this observance, the main message for people is to talk with their health care providers about hospice care. By doing so, they will be able to be aware of possible hospice benefits, as well as ensure that appropriate care will be available to them when they need it. Volunteers also play an important role in the promotion of hospice awareness by being active in getting their communities to know about hospice.