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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Who is part of the hospice team?

At the very core of every hospice there are four required components: medical doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains.

In addition to these core components, essentially all hospices benefit from involvement of other support staff who make irreplaceable contributions to patient care and are vital to survival of hospice organizations. Contributions of these team members vary between hospices and depend on the plan of care of the patients.

Hospice volunteers are an integral part of the hospice team. They assist patients with meal preparation, running errands, companionship, basic needs around the house, and other projects to help the patient and the family. Certified home health aides are another important part of hospice care. Home aides are usually employed by hospice and help patients and families with personal care such as assistance with bathing, feeding, and other basic needs.

Hospices often utilize other ancillary staff including

  • nurse assistants and LVN (licensed vocational nurses),
  • dieticians or nutritionists,
  • speech, physical, occupational therapists,
  • bereavement counselors,
  • respiratory therapists,
  • pharmacists.

Less commonly, some hospices may utilize the expertise of acupuncturists, music therapists, massage therapists, psychologists, or art therapists if these services are thought to improve the patient's symptoms or overall quality of life.

Hospice patients are always (24 hours a day, seven days a week) under the care of the hospice medical directors through nurses and other hospice team members.

An essential component of hospice care is the interdisciplinary team (or IDT) meeting which takes place every two weeks. During the IDT, each patient's progress, active issues, and overall plan of care are thoroughly reviewed by the hospice medical directors, nurses, social workers, volunteers, chaplain, and other ancillary staff who are involved in the patient's care.

Because hospice care is centered around the patient as a whole, the recommendations and input from each team member in IDT contribute meaningfully to the overall plan of care.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/6/2015
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