It has been said many times that nobody avoids death and taxes. Although that may be true what sometimes lies between those two is the need for hospice care. With the life expectancy of our global population continuing to rise, the care needed for baby boomers and beyond has also increased. As the world’s technology has made life easier, the human touch can never be replaced.
Farlex Partner’s Medical Dictionary defines hospice as an institution that provides a centralized program of palliative and supportive services to dying people and their families, in the form of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care; such services are provided by an interdisciplinary team of professional and volunteers who are available in the home and in specialized inpatient settings.
(A definition of Hospice) Before we answer the question, “when is the right time for hospice”, first, let’s get an understanding of hospice itself.
The Birth of Hospice
Cicely Saunders was an English Anglican nurse, social worker, physician and writer who is best known for her role in the birth of the hospice movement in the 1960’s. Dr. Saunders became a physician in 1957. After eleven years of thinking about the project, researching pain control, serving cancer patients and dealing with the death of her father, Ms. Saunders started St. Christopher Hospice in 1967. Located in Sydenham, England, it was the world’s first purpose-built hospice. This was the start of hospice, emphasizing the importance of palliative care in modern medicine.
The hospice was founded on the principles of combining teaching and clinical research, expert pain and symptom relief with holistic care to meet the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of its patients and those of their family and friends. It was a place where patients could garden, write, talk – and get their hair done. “As the body becomes weaker, so the spirit becomes stronger” – Dame Cicely Saunders
The Growth of Hospice
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization hospice care is growing. Since 1982 an estimated 25,000 patients were in hospice care. This number increased to over 1.5 million patients by 2013. What this data proves is universally families and friends are more informed about how to make their love ones, who are approaching death, more comfortable in their last days. Hospice is not just for the dying, but intricately as important for the living as they are given the coping skills, information and the support that they require during a very difficult time. Here are some statistics on patients served.
When is it Time for Hospice?
Hospice care is usually based on a prognosis of six months or less to live and with the recommendation of a physician. This does not mean you have to wait. Your decision should be based on input from both a physician and loved ones. Every moment matters and giving your loved ones quality care and quality of life matters most.
The amount of services that hospice provides ranges from inpatient, outpatient and respite care. Many people want to stay in a familiar environment surrounded by love ones. Hospice care should be available where the patient lives. With a myriad of services such as caregivers, nurses, medical equipment, bereavement support services for both children and adults hospice agency usually employ a 24 hour medical answering service that allows family, friends and patients a direct line to emergency personnel like nurses and other medical staff and support services when they need it most.
With only one life to live shouldn’t it be free of pain and full of love.