November, 2016: What is Hospice?

Almost every moment of every day, individuals are all faced with choices.  Some are small: what to eat for lunch, what to wear that day, what to watch on tv.  Some are bigger...like starting a family or planning for retirement.  Usually, decisions are based on a simple set of criteria: emotions, previous experiences, outside influences, etc.

Unfortunately, when someone you love is facing a terminal illness, all of that goes out the window.  Every choice takes on a new and special importance…with an entirely new set of criteria that, truth be told, can be confusing and scary when confronted with them for the first time.

The Center for Hope, and our highly trained team of professionals, understands the challenges families face when it comes to a terminal illness.  We’ve built our reputation on a solid foundation of trusted, compassionate hospice care in the community and in our own residences benefiting both the patient and the family.

We realize that many people are only somewhat familiar with the concept of hospice and palliative care.  Most are uncomfortable thinking about end-of-life issues…until presented with them first-hand.  When a loved one is involved, it’s important to understand your options.  Here, we introduce the concepts of hospice and palliative care and urge you to reach out to us should you have more specific questions.

What is hospice?
According to a 2015 report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, more than 1.6 million Americans receive hospice services each year. That number is increasing in stride with the rise of our aging population.

People choose hospice for a variety of reasons; it’s a dignified alternative to prolonged, impersonal and often uncomfortable medical procedures when recovery may no longer be an option.  Founded on the philosophy that everyone deserves a death unencumbered by stress and pain, hospice helps patients dealing with a terminal illness stay physically, emotionally, and spiritually comfortable so they can focus on the quality of the time they have left.  It also offers comprehensive support to the patient’s families and caregivers during their time of need.

The Center for Hope’s services typically involve a combination of medical care, pain management, emotional support and spiritual counseling, but there’s no single snapshot of what hospice looks like. It can take place in a patient’s home, in residences like Peggy’s House and Father Hudson House (the Center for Hope’s residences), in an institutional hospice facility, nursing home, or wherever a patient may reside.  Because everyone’s end-of-life needs are unique, hospice is a deeply personalized approach, tailored to the individual’s circumstances and wishes.

What is palliative care?
Pain management, known as palliative care, is a foundation of hospice care but not all palliative care patients are in hospice. The difference?  Hospice is for patients dealing with a terminal illness; palliative care is for patients at any stage of illness, terminal or otherwise.

The focus of palliative care is to provide relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. A team of specially trained physicians, nurses, social workers and other practitioners collaborate with the patient’s doctors to create additional support to improve quality of life. Recognizing the stresses that chronic, serious or terminal illness places on loved ones, this support extends to the patient’s family as well.  Palliative care may be offered for people of all ages and at all stages of illness and can be an excellent adjunct to curative treatment.

There are many excellent online resources for those wishing to learn more about hospice and palliative care.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the largest nonprofit advocacy group in the field, is dedicated to advancing hospice information to terminally ill patients, their families, and the public.
The Caregivers Library offers good background on end-of-life issues including hospice and palliative care.
Web MD provides a comprehensive overview of hospice and palliative care.
Get Palliative Care answers many common questions about this treatment modality.
In her touching blog, Life as a Hospice Patient, author and mental health advocate Judi Chamberlin gives an honest, first-hand account about the ups and downs of daily life in hospice.

To find out about the services we offer at the Center for Hope, you are always welcome to visit our beautiful, state-of-the-art residences and speak with our attentive team of hospice professionals. Contact us at (908) 889-7780 or at info@cfhh.org to find out how the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care is the right choice for all the right reasons.