Hospice is a philosophy of care founded on the belief in the sacred dignity of human life. Hospice care affirms life and regards dying as a natural process. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice care adds life to one's days, not days to one's life.
Hospice is not euthanasia. Hospice provides palliative (comfort) care to patients who are terminally ill so they can be as comfortable and alert as possible. Euthanasia is the intentional killing, by act or omission, of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit.
When patients elect hospice care, they keep their own physician who approves medications and treatments that are consistent with national accepted standards of care and the patient’s wishes. Patients are encouraged to participate in developing their own treatment plan. Hospice staff members follow physician orders in a compassionate and professional manner, but only when the patient or their trusted caregiver authorizes us to do so.
Hospice does not withhold or force medications, nutrition or hydration on any patient. The decision on whether or not adult patients receive medications, food or fluid remains with them or their chosen caregiver. It is never the decision of hospice personnel, friends or family members who the patient has not authorized, no matter how well the intentions might be.
Unlike other forms of health care, hospice focuses on both the patient and the family. Because an approaching death is very stressful for a family, we encourage open and honest communication during this time. This helps minimize conflict and disagreements. Occasionally, some family members do not always come to an understanding and can have strong differences. These disputes can be extremely painful for everyone involved, including the patient.
As one might imagine, watching a loved one die is never easy, but there can be immense satisfaction to families in knowing that they provided loving and caring support. The same holds true for hospice staff and volunteers. Most people who work for hospice do not consider it simply a job. Most feel called and consider it a ministry and are incredibly passionate about their labor. While often difficult, hospice is one of the most rewarding occupations one can have.
For more information on Hospice Care: http://www.nhpco.org/
For Books on Healing your Grief: http://www.pathintohealing.com/