Harrison’s Hope believes that death is a part of life. It is the final stage of life, and the last chapter. We worry that so much emphasis is placed on finding a cure that many people experience death by surprise. It simply creeps up on them because the focus has not been placed on comfort and living each moment.
When this happens patients and families are not able to plan for death, spend precious time together, and say goodbye to their loved ones. Despite all the advances in diagnosis and treatment, a cure is not always possible. Whether it is a slow decline or a very fast and sudden decline, most of the time continued treatment, even if available, will compromise a person’s quality of life. After a discussion with the physician and consideration of treatment options and the potential outcomes, it may be time for palliative or hospice care.
Some patients and families are frightened by the word hospice, believing that all treatment will be discontinued and the patient is simply being sent home to die. However, the word "hospice" simply means "hospitality" and comes from medieval times when people opened up their homes for weary travelers. These places were called hospice houses. The kind of care provided to the travelers was comfort care.
Hospice is a philosophy of care and a philosophy of life. The hospice philosophy embraces a holistic approach that encompasses the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of the individual and family. The patient and family are seen as the unit of care. Care has to be individualized to meet the patient’s and the family’s needs, as well as being responsive to the differences in lifestyles.