Hospice care – an exploration

It is not uncommon for people to have misunderstandings about what Hospice is or does.

It is not uncommon for people to have misunderstandings about what Hospice is or does. In modern society the topic of end-of-life care is often avoided until it touches our life personally.

The first hospice was believed to have originated in the 11th century, and hospices in centuries following were places of hospitality for the sick, wounded, or dying, as well as those established for travelers and pilgrims.

Modern hospice services were pioneered in the 1950s in England by Dame Cicely Saunders with a focus on compassionate, medically appropriate and person-centered care.

Hospice has developed into both a style of care and a philosophy of care that centers on the provision of comfort and symptom control for those who have a life-limiting illness. Symptoms can be physical, emotional, spiritual or social in nature, and all are addressed as needed.

The word palliative comes from the Latin palliere meaning to cloak or a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients.

The philosophical focus is to help the dying person live as fully as possible with the maximum quality of life that can be attained.

Hospice care can take place in a variety of locations. Larger centres may have palliative (from the Latin palliere – to cloak, a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients)care units or ‘free-standing’ hospice buildings with staff and facilities dedicated solely to palliation.

Hospice care can also take place in regular hospital units or residential care facilities where there may be a dedicated palliative suite or room.

Hospice care can also be given in an individual’s home where hospice staff and volunteers provide service in cooperation with health care professionals.

The Greater Trail Hospice Society offers hospice support to communities in our area in many ways. Staff can meet with clients and family members to assess needs for personal support, education or respite care.  Trained bedside volunteers can provide company for clients in home, hospital or facility.

This often allows family caregivers to have some time to rejuvenate or get personal tasks done. Equipment loans like alternating air pressure mattresses, voice monitors or fans are available from the Hospice office to provide physical comfort for clients, or peace of mind for family members.

Grief support is also available to family and friends following the death of their loved one.

Your community hospice society also provides education opportunities.

Workshops, training events, educational videos, a library of resources about death and grief, and helpful brochures are all available to the general public, to health care professionals, and to those who most closely support the dying.

Please feel free to contact the Hospice office at 250-364-6204 if any of our services can support you or your family.

Gail Potter is a Nurse Educator at Selkirk College who chairs the Hospice Board.