Hospice Care: History, Advantages & Disadvantages

What is Hospice?

Hospice implies providing care, shelter, and comfort to those who are suffering. Today it means providing special care to those patients who have incurable diseases so that their lives are prolonged and they live in maximum possible comfort till their deaths.

Hospice is a philosophy. It is of the view that patients who cannot be cured must spend their last few days or years in dignity, free of pain, with their loved ones so that they may die peaceful deaths.

Evolution of Hospice Care

Hospice has its origins in the term hospitality. As the concept evolved, the term hospice came to be associated with taking care of those who were dying. Hospice has its origins in the Catholic religion. It was first introduced in Australia in 1963 by the Sisters of Little Charity of Mary. It has evolved over years with the help of nurses, nuns, and priests. After about twenty years hospice became widely practiced in the United States. As of now, about one-third of all the people who die in the United States have gone through hospice care. Most insurance services cover hospice care today. Most hospice programs are not-for-profit. Hospice care is growing in popularity and numbers.

Initially, most hospice programs were aimed at older people. Today, everyone who is eligible including children can receive hospice care. These include patients who have diseases such as AIDS, Cancer, and Schizophrenia. Since hospice stemmed from religious origins, it gained rapid attention from the state. Its growth in the last twenty years has been remarkable.

Advantages of Hospice Care

Hospice establishes life and manages pain. It emphasizes the quality of a patient’s remaining life. Patients receive hospice care under the observation of trained and skilled medical staff throughout the day. They are never left alone. The good thing about hospice is that it can even be provided at one’s home if the patient is unable or unwilling to leave his house. Hospice helps make the best of each day of a patient who is in his last stages (David & Gong, 46). It has more to do with one’s spiritual treatment to make him or she accept and deal with reality (Matzo & Sherman, 3).

An added advantage of hospice care is the services provided after the patient’s death to help the family cope with the loss. This could go on for a year and involves counseling and support groups (Matzo & Sherman, 7).

Disadvantages of Hospice Care

Hospice does not prolong life. It only focuses on the quality, not the length of it. In most cases, hospice lasts for the last six months of the patient’s life (David & Gong, 46). In the case of cancer, hospice does not cure the disease. Instead, it only relieves the patient of the symptoms of cancer. A major disadvantage of hospice is that it is started too late and hence is less effective. Another drawback of hospice is that it gives the patient the feeling of hopelessness to know that nothing can be done to cure him or her.

Funding of Hospice Care

Most forms of medical insurance cover hospice care. It is also covered by Medicare services for patients who are expected to live for six months or less. Medicaid benefits cover hospice care as well for those who live in the prescribed areas. Tricare, a medical insurance service for those in the military and their families, covers hospice benefits too (David & Gong, 46).

Works Cited

A Book

  1. English, D. and Gong, J. Nursing Home. “Why hospice care belongs in nursing homes, part 1”. Nursing Homes 50 (4); pg. 46. (2001).
  2. Matzo, M. & Sherman, D. W. Palliative care nursing: quality care to the end of life. Published by Springer Publishing Company (2005)
  3. Whitten, P., Doolittle, G., Mackert, M. and Rush, T. Telehospice: End-of-life care over the lines.
  4. Nursing Management 34 (11). (2003).

A Web Page

  1. American Hospice Foundation Team. “What is Hospice?” American Hospice Foundation. Web.
  2. Children’s Hospice International. “Children’s Hospice International Program for All-Inclusive Care for Children and their Families”. Child Online.
  3. Hospice Foundation Team. “Choosing Hospice”. Hospice Foundation of America. Web.