Hospice; capisce o non capisce? If the latter, read on

As a caregiver you may have heard about hospice care. If you have, you may have wondered about the who, what, where, when, and why. If that’s case, below are the basic elements of which hospice care consists.

Hospice care basics

Who is in the care team?

  • A bereavement team.
  • A doctor.
  • Caregivers and other relatives.
  • Case management workers.
  • Children’s specialists (to help children cope with a loved one’s illness.)
  • Home health aides.
  • Registered nurses.
  • Social workers.
  • Spiritual caregivers.
  • Volunteers.

What do volunteers do?

  • Donate 2-5 hours a week.
  • Administrative tasks.
  • Memorial services.
  • Bereavement training.
  • Fund raising activities to help people who can’t afford hospice services.
  • Hands-on care to the care receiver.
  • Respite and support to caregivers and relatives.
  • Transportation for the care receiver.

What is hospice care like?

  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days week.
  • Educational for the patient and family.
  • Focused on helping the care receiver remain mentally and physically active.
  • Focused on pain management.
  • Inclusive of bereavement support for family members; for instance, educational and social events, phone contacts, support groups.
  • Built around the care receiver’s needs
  • Supportive of caregivers.

What are the goals of hospice care?

  • Attending to the physical and mental suffering of the care receiver.
  • Continuing to treat the care receiver until death.
  • Helping the family for up to 12 months after the death of the care receiver.
  • Focusing on the dignity and goals of the care receiver.
  • Honoring the care receiver’s preference for withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining intervention
  • Planning for the end-of-life care.

Where is hospice care given?

  • The care receiver’s home.
  • An institutional facility for hospice care (assisted living facilities, hospitals, or nursing homes).
  • Residential hospice facilities.

When is hospice care given at residential hospice facility?

  • When adult children work full time or don’t live locally.
  • When care is too medically technical for a layperson.
  • When the caregiver is not able to provide round-the-clock care.
  •  When the home is not suitable and can’t be adapted.
  • When 4 hour-a-day nursing care is required.

Who receives hospice care?

  • Patients who have problems managing daily living activities.
  • Patients who are terminally ill and have 6 months to live or less.
  • Patients who desire to manage symptoms – including pain management – as opposed to treat the actual condition.

Hospice care volunteering

Volunteers are so important to hospice care that a more detailed explanation of what they do is de rigueur.

What do volunteers do?

Support for patients

  • Visiting.
  • Reading.
  • Taking walks.
  • Writing letters.
  • Bringing in music.
  • Supervising visits with pets.
  • Massage therapy (for volunteers with the necessary skills).

Support for the patient’s family

  • Shopping.
  • Household maintenance.
  • Allowing family caregivers to take care of necessary errands and get some time away from the house.
  • Compassion and understanding.

Child care

  • Baby-sitting.
  • Picking up children from school.
  • Providing transportation to club meetings or sporting events and practices.
  • Pet care.


  • Assisting as a support group facilitator.
  • Serving refreshments.
  • Helping with mailings to clients and families.

Fundraising/administrative work

  • Preparing mailings or thank-you letters to organizing fundraising.
  • Contacting possible donors.


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