Hospice is a special concept of care that provides a coordinated set of services rendered at home and in outpatient or institutional settings for individuals suffering from a disease or condition with a terminal prognosis, and to provide comfort and support to the patients and their families.
The word "hospice" stems from the Latin word "hospitium" meaning guesthouse. It was originally used to describe a place of shelter for weary and sick travelers returning from religious pilgrimages.
During the 1960's, Dr. Cicely Saunders, a British physician began the modern hospice movement by establishing St. Christopher's Hospice near London. St. Christopher's organized a team approach to professional caregiving, and was the first program to use modern pain management techniques to compassionately care for the dying. The first hospice in the United States was established in New Haven, Connecticut in 1974.
- Hospice care is a program of planned and continuous care of which the medical components shall be under the direction of a physician.
- Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death.
- Hospice staff and volunteers offer a specialized knowledge of medical care, including pain management.
- The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of a patient's last days by offering comfort and dignity.
- Hospice care is provided by a team-oriented group of specially trained professionals, volunteers, and family members.
- Hospice addresses all symptoms of a disease, with a special emphasis on controlling a patient's pain and discomfort.
- Hospice deals with the emotional, social, and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and the patient's family and friends.
- Hospice offers a variety of bereavement and counseling services to families before and after a patient's death.