Hospice Is Not a Place. It's So Much More.
Posted by Susan Harvey, Social Worker
Hospice is not a place. It is a philosophy of care.
Hospice focuses on providing compassionate care to patients with terminal illnesses once curative treatment has ended.
Hospice happens anywhere the patient calls home, from the house they grew old in, or a new place they have come to call home — be it in assisted living, a nursing home, a residential facility or a hospice carecenter.
As a hospice social worker, I am part of a hospice team that provides support to ensure holistic care for the patient and family. A hospice team includes, at minimum, a doctor, a nurse, a CNA (certified nursing assistant), a social worker, a chaplain and a trained volunteer. Every team works diligently on behalf of a patient and their family to assess needs and respond to them.
Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, worked to define and treat “total pain.” Total pain is recognized as having physical, emotional, social and spiritual components. Having a team in place to provide specialized expertise regarding all aspects of total pain is crucial in assisting our patients.
Pain management, questions about the meaning of life, family conflict, and emotions around physical decline are some of the needs that a hospice team helps with. Additionally, some hospices, including JourneyCare, offer massage and reiki, and have an integrative therapies team that can provide support through art therapy, music therapy and music-thanatology.
Dame Cicely Saunders said, “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life.”
My passion for hospice work, and that of my hospice team, continues because we recognize that all our patients matter to the end of their lives.