Hospice and Palliative Care is the active care of patients with advanced, progressive and incurable disease. The following is the definition of Palliative Care from the World Health Organization:
Hospice and Palliative Care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psycho-social and spiritual.
Hospice and Palliative Care:
- Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
- Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
- Intends neither to hasten nor postpone death;
- Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
- Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
- Offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement;
- Strives to enhance the quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of the illness.
To choose hospice means choosing to not aggressively treat the condition that is likely to cause death, however, it does not mean the hospice patient gets no medical care. Relief of pain is a major focus of hospice care.
Hospice benefits are available through most health insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid and most private plans.