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Hospice care, unlike home health care, provides treatment to manage pain and symptoms associated with a terminal illness. In addition, hospice care gives support - emotionally, spiritually, and socially to the patient and the family. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort and care, not "cure" the illness or disease, like home health care. Pain and symptom control are the objectives of all hospice services. The goal of hospice care is to enable the person who is terminally ill to enjoy life to the fullest. Types of hospice care services provided depend on the patient's needs and preferences. Services may include:

  • Nursing care
    In consultation with the hospice physician, a registered nurse will set up a plan of care. Nursing care may involve administering medication, monitoring the condition of patient, controlling pain, and providing other health support.
  • Medical social services
    Medical social workers provide various services to the patient, including counseling and locating community resources to help the patient and his or her family.
  • Physician services
    The physician plays an important role in determining the plan of care with the hospice care team.
  • Spiritual services
    Depending on the patient's religious or spiritual beliefs, hospice care can include support from clergy or other spiritual counselors for the patient and the family.
  • Home care aide
    Home health aides can help the patient with his or her basic personal needs such as getting out of bed, walking, bathing, and dressing. Some aides have received specialized training to assist with more specialized care under supervision of a nurse.
  • 24-hour care or on-call care
    Hospice care teams are usually available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visits or phone consultations can often be made any time of day.
  • Hospice inpatient care
    At times, it may become necessary to move the hospice patient from the home to a hospital or other care facility. The hospice can arrange this care and then resume hospice care when appropriate.
  • Volunteer care
    Volunteers are often part of hospice care teams, providing services ranging from companionship to carpooling. Volunteers often fill in the gaps for families dealing with a terminal illness and provide support for both the patient and the family.
  • Physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy
    As a terminal illness progresses, the patient may lose his or her ability to accomplish basic daily tasks such as dressing or feeding. Physical, occupational, and/or speech therapists can work with the patient to find new ways to accomplish lost functions.
  • Respite care
    Caring for a terminally ill patient 24 hours a day can be exhausting for a family. Respite care gives the family a much-needed break by arranging for a brief in-patient stay for the patient, or extra services in the home.
  • Bereavement support
    Care for the family does not end with the death of a patient. The hospice care team works with the surviving family members to help them cope with the grieving process. Bereavement support may include counseling, support groups, or medical referrals.