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What is Hospice/ Palliative Care?

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Where do Hospice patients live?

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What Are Hospice &

Palliative Care?

As defined by the American Cancer Society, Hospice care is "a special kind of care that focuses on the quality of life for people and their caregivers who are experiencing an advanced, life-limiting illness. Hospice care provides compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible."

Both Palliative and Hospice care aim to improve the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses. Similarly, both types of care encompass the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient. The difference between Hospice and Palliative care is that Hospice equates specifically to end of life care. For instance, a middle-aged woman with cancer may receive Palliative care in order to improve her quality of life. She may receive Palliative care while she is receiving aggressive therapies and fighting to beat cancer. However, this woman may receive Hospice care if curing no longer remains an option. Most hospice organizations state that patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live qualify for hospice care. As defined by Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care, "Palliative care undertakes the same philosophy of full-patient care which can be performed for non-terminal patients, helping them live longer, happier lives."Therefore, full-patient care for patients in their last stage of life receive Hospice care rather than Palliative care on account of their illness being terminal.

Hospice care plans build their foundation upon the wants and needs of patients and their families. Many fields in medicine focus on asking the question: What is the matter with you? Under hospice care, the question changes to: What matters most to you? Subsequently, the preferences of the patients and their families are prioritized when making decisions about the care plan. The focus shifts to managing symptoms and optimizing patients' quality of life rather than treating the disease itself. A common misconception surrounding palliative care exists—people regularly associate hospice care with the negative connotation of death. However, hospice care is the opposite. Hospice care is about living and providing the best quality of life to patients in the remaining time they have left. There a number of ways that you can contribute towards improving the lives of hospice patients, and Letter Angels is an excellent way to make a difference in the lives of hospice patients!

Where Do Hospice Patients Live?

Hospice patients may live at home with family or loved ones, in a nursing facility, or a long-term care facility. In addition, some hospice organizations have their own facilities or are associated with certain hospitals and inpatient residential centers as options for hospice patients who cannot live at home. Most hospice organizations assemble teams composed of doctors, registered nurses, social workers, chaplains, hospice aides, and hospice volunteers. Specialized visits from the patient's care team depends on request, availability of these services, travel requirements, and the patient load of the hospice organization. Hospice teams do their best in order to fulfill the needs and desires of the patients and their families.

Letter Angels focuses on patients living in nursing or long-term care facilities. The Covid-19 pandemic poses a significant barrier between hospice patients and hospice volunteers. In an effort to offer continued support and companionship to hospice patients, Letter Angels was created as a pen-pal system between volunteers and hospice patients.

How Do Care Plans For Hospice Patients Focus on Comfort?

Social isolation has been shown to have a negative impact on the mind and body and have a strong correlation with depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, and sleep deprivation. Consequently, patient isolation can significantly limit a hospice patient's quality of life. Since hospice patients are nearing the end of their lives, it is imperative that they feel comfortable, supported, fulfilled, and find closure. Hospice care plans are designed to accomplish these goals.

With a serious illness, pain and other significant complications resulting from the illness must be managed in hospice patients. The hospice team is trained to care for the patients and manage pain, discomfort, and distress from a physical, emotional, and spiritual standpoint. Ensuring the patient remains pain-free is crucial to the hospice care plan, and the comfort of hospice patients is frequently measured. Care plans are reviewed periodically and are subject to change based on the perspectives of the patients and their families. Hospice staff work closely with the physician on the team so that medications, procedures, and therapies, successfully achieve the goals indicated by the care plan.


1.) Offer hospice patients the chance to foster connections with volunteers and improve patient morale throughout their time in hospice care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

2.) Provide volunteers with the opportunity to remotely give back to the community and broaden their understanding of Hospice and Palliative care.

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