The Basics of Hospice Care

Many residents of Spencer County know little about hospice.  The truth is, most people don’t think about hospice or dying until a doctor gives them a terminal diagnosis or a recommendation for hospice.  At that point people are usually distraught (and rightfully so) and it is difficult to process information given, let alone make a decision about hospice.

Hospice provides care and support for terminally ill persons and their families throughout the process of illness, death and bereavement.  One of the main goals of hospice is to allow the dying person to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice does not attempt to cure a person, but provides aggressive control of pain and other symptoms (palliative care).

Hospice is primarily a philosophy of care, and not a place.  Most hospice patients remain in their own homes.  Hospice staff uses a holistic approach in which the patient and family members are encouraged to participate in planning the patient’s care and urged to help with the patient’s care as much as possible. This allows each family’s unique needs (physical, social, psychological and spiritual) to be met.

Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals and volunteers who are specially trained to guide and support patients and families during this difficult time.  The hospice team consists of physicians, (patients are not required to change doctors, their private physicians continue to provide care for them), nurses, social workers, spiritual caregivers, counselors, therapists, and volunteers.

The mission statement of Spencer County Hospice states: “…is to provide high-quality physical, social, spiritual and emotional care for terminally ill people and their families that promotes comfort, enhances quality of life and meets the unique needs of each client/family through the process of illness, death and bereavement.”