CBGD NetworkCBGD Network

Start Page | Caregivers Case Histories | Features and Glossary | Network Support Groups

The first Hospice program in the U.S. was established in Connecticut in 1974. Today there are more than 3000 programs across the country. Hospice is historically a not-for-profit organization but with increasing health care costs, there are increasing numbers of for-profit hospices. Currently approximately 80% of hospices are not-for-profit or- as with V.A. hospices, are affiliated with a government agency. All of their services are palliative (to reduce the violence of or to moderate the intensity of a disease), based on the philosophy that every patient has the right to spend his or her remaining days in comfort, with dignity and pain free.

Their services vary to some extent from area to area but as a general rule, they may include some of the following: nursing care, social services, home care aides, medicines (prescription drugs and OTC), special equipment, bereavement support, inpatient care and respite for the caregiver. They also pay any doctor bills. Typically, as in our case, we just turned Barbara’s Medicare over to Hospice and that took care of the financial end. If the patient does not qualify for Medicare some medical insurance plans cover it. Hospice usually will help if there is no way to pay.

Hospice was very helpful to us, especially in giving us advice and equipment that we would otherwise not know about. My advise is to get them involved as early as possible. This disease is not predictable so you cannot state a specific time frame so have your doctor request hospice services early on.

To learn more about hospice check out their web site on the Internet at the National Hospice Organization Internet Home Page http://www.nho.org

General information from their web site:
Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end of life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach of expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s wishes. Emotional and spiritual support also is extended to the family and loved ones. Generally, this care is provided in the patient’s home or in a home-like setting operated by a hospice program.

In recent years, many hospice care programs added “palliative care” to their names to reflect the range of care and services they provide – as hospice care and palliative care share the same core values and philosophies. Defined by the World Health Organization in 1990, palliative care seeks to address not only physical pain, but also emotional, social, and spiritual pain to achieve the “best possible quality of life for patients and their families.” Palliative care extends the principles of hospice care to a broader population that could benefit from receiving this type of care earlier in their illness or disease process. To better serve individuals who have advanced illness or are terminally ill and their families, many hospice programs encourage access to care earlier in the illness or disease process. Health care professionals who specialize in hospice and palliative care work closely with staff and volunteers to address all of the symptoms of illness, with the aim of promoting comfort and dignity.

Medicare, private health insurance, and Medicaid in most states cover hospice care for patients who meet certain criteria. In addition, many hospices depend on charitable contributions to cover the costs of care for terminally ill patients who cannot afford to pay for their care.

In addition to this web site, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers information on local hospice and palliative care programs across the country and operates a toll-free Helpline at (800) 658-8898.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has a General Information Packet (GI Packet) with information on hospice and palliative care. If you would like a packet mailed to you simply call the HelpLine.