Comfort, love, respect. Observing National Hospice Month.
November is National Hospice Month. Over 1.5 million patients receive hospice services each year in the U.S., ensuring that they can die with compassion and dignity.
Here at AAMC, our collaborative hospice expertise plays such an important role in the lives of many of our patients and their families. Here’s one family’s story:
Ms. A was admitted for end-stage cardiomyopathy. She and her large extended family and friends were still agreeing to full treatment, regardless of her quickly decreasing cardiac status. The bedside nurses suggested a hospice consult during interdisciplinary rounds and was ordered by the attending physician. While Ms. A had been very upbeat about receiving aggressive treatment, she soon realized her decline was progressive. After many conversations with the hospice team (nurses, physicians, nurse practitioner and social worker), Ms. A and her family were able to decide to accept hospice for symptom management. It was at this point she said she could now accept her dying as a celebration.
Days later, a large group of family and friends gathered for a celebration service at Ms. A’s bedside. The room was filled with singing and praises to honor Ms. A’s life and death. The next day Ms. A passed calmly with loving family and friends present.
AAMC is proud to collaborate with several hospice organizations. On a daily basis, we provide supportive care to patients, families and staff. Our combined interdisciplinary approach generates consults early in the non-curative terminal process so that patients can get home earlier to reach their personal end of life goals of comfort and better quality of life.
A brief history of hospice. “Hospice” stems from the Latin word “hospitium,” meaning guesthouse. It was originally a place of shelter for weary and sick travelers returning from religious pilgrimages. During the 1960’s, Dr. Cicely Saunders, a British physician, began the modern hospice, called St. Christopher’s Hospice, near London. This was the first program to use modern pain management techniques for compassionate care. The first hospice in the United States was established in New Haven, Connecticut in 1974.
The goals of hospice. Hospice is designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. It neither prolongs life nor hastens death, but instead improves the quality of a patient’s last days by offering comfort and dignity. Hospice care is provided by a team-oriented group of specially trained professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers, home health aides, clergy, bereavement counselors, volunteers and complimentary healing art services) and family members. It deals with the emotional, social and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and the patient’s family and friends.
Do you have a hospice story that touched you or one of your patients? Share here. And remember to thank our hospice team for the phenomenal job they do every day.
For more information on hospice, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization web site at www.nhpco.org.
References: Hospice Foundation of America (2012). What is hospice? Retrieved November 19, 2012, from, www.hospicefoundation.org/whatishospice
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization [NHPCO] (2011). Facts and figures. Retrieved November 19, 2012, from, www.nhpco.org/files/public/Statistics_Research/2012_Facts_Figures.pdf