While making my rounds through internal medicine I noticed a common theme emulating from various departments. Many patients who could no longer care for themselves were being referred to hospice care if they met the proper criteria. I thought I would take a moment to discuss what hospice really entails because it seems like it has such a negative connotation to the public, and has become a feared seven letter word.
First, to even be eligible to receive hospice care, one must meet the following criteria. They need to be determined to have a terminal illness (which is defined as having a prognosis of 6 months or less), they must not make a hospice election, and must not have previously received pre-election hospice services. Many individuals interpret hospice care as giving up on life, but I assure you that’s not what the intention is. It’s a place where people who are suffering, or just having difficulty towards their end of life, can receive help from experienced individuals to make end of life care easier. It’s a place where those who are spending their final days in pain and agony, can find relief. It’s a place where one can go to gain comfort without the constant worry of being readmitted to the hospital due to another accident, or infection caused by improper care.
This form of care is many times viewed as a means to an end. I personally don’t believe that this “end” represents death, but more of an end to suffering. There are also many forms of hospice care including home hospice and cares hospices such as Hospice Cincinnati. Many believe that they must leave the comfort of their home to receive this care, but that’s entirely not true. This form of care is meant to make the patient as comfortable as possible, so if this means staying home, then it can definitely be arranged.
I hope that the negative connotation associated with this form of care will one day be a thing of the past. It is a great program that has helped countless individuals spend their final moments in comfort.