Hospice is a type of palliative care that provides services to improve the quality of life for the family and child. The word "hospice" literally means "a place of shelter" Hospice settings and home-hospice care provide extensive services to terminally ill children. Care usually involves relieving symptoms and providing psychological and social support for the patient and family. To qualify for hospice care, a patient usually has a life expectancy of less than six months. The decision to pursue hospice care is a decision not to pursue aggressive treatment. In addition, hospice philosophy provides for the spiritual and cultural needs of the child and family. The goal of hospice care is to provide the terminally ill patient peace, comfort, and dignity.
Research has shown that hospice care at home helps a family as a whole. In addition to being in the comfort of the home, family members can also take an active role in providing supplemental, supportive care to the patient. Hospice often includes an extensive multi-disciplinary team available for care, including physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, home care aids, trained volunteers, pharmacists, and bereavement counselors.
Although most patients receive hospice care at home, hospice care can also take place in other settings, including:
- Hospital-based hospice
Most hospitals have a hospice program to give terminally ill patients access to support services and other healthcare professionals. Some hospitals even have a special hospice unit.
- Long-term care hospice
Many long-term care homes have hospice units with specially trained staff for those patients who require medical services not suitable for a home setting.
- Freestanding hospice
Independently owned hospices may sometimes include an inpatient care facility, in addition to their home care hospice services. The inpatient facilities offer patients hospice services if the patient requires medical services not suitable for a home setting.
Hospice services are similar to home health care services, but may also include:
- spiritual services and religious needs
- 24-hour care or on-call care
- respite care
- bereavement support