Hospice

  • Medical Author:
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Are hospice services available for children?

Most, but not all, hospices render care for pediatric patients with terminal illnesses. The care provided for children on hospice is generally even more delicate and complex because of

  • challenges in communicating with children about their illness,
  • children's perceptions about illness and death,
  • difficulty assessing children's symptoms,
  • unnatural and dramatic circumstance for parents,
  • effects of a child's illness on other siblings and friends,
  • uneasy social interactions with other children.

Hospices which provide pediatric care often use the expertise of counselors, therapists, and social workers trained in child psychology and communication.

Can hospice care be offered at home?

Yes, because hospice is a service which can be provided in many different settings. Its location to deliver care is based on each individual's preference. In fact, the majority of patients on hospice stay at their home or their usual residence (nursing homes or long-term care facilities) as they did prior to going on hospice.

Hospice care can be offered where the patient lives as long as the environment is safe, and the intensity of care does not overwhelm the patient and caregivers. Occasionally, a patient may need to be moved to a nursing facility or another health-care setting if their home care becomes unachievable. This situation usually arises because of a need for higher level of personal care or uncontrolled symptoms requiring close monitoring by trained staff.

What are some medical conditions commonly referred to hospice?

Even though cancer remains one of the most common hospice diagnoses, many other terminal conditions are now very routinely referred to hospice.

Conditions other than cancer that are commonly referred to hospice are

In reality, no specific restrictions exist as to what conditions can be referred to hospice. Any disease that is deemed end stage is not reversible, and its further treatment poses more burden than benefit can be considered for referral to hospice.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/6/2015

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