I must admit that when I hear the word “hospice” I do not really know what it truly means. At least I didn’t before now. Though the word has several definitions, for the purpose of this post I am using “a health-care facility for the terminally ill that emphasizes pain control and emotional support for the patient and family, typically refraining from taking extraordinary measures to prolong life.” Yes, I understood the meaning of the words before. But only recently have I begun to understand the meaning of the place.
In my avocation, I enjoy speaking to groups and educating them about the need to make your end of life plans in advance. One of those speaking engagements was to a group of hospice nurses. Before my speech I did a little research into the task of a hospice nurse and became enlightened to the type of work and decisions they do everyday. They are truly angels of mercy and very special people in what they must do. Providing dignity at the end of life to anyone is a difficult task indeed.
Statistics demonstrate the 90% of people would prefer to die at home. About 95% of hospice care is done in the home, yet 70% of us die in an intensive care unit or nursing home that is not anything like the peaceful and secure surroundings that being at home offers. Hospice locations provide benefits from each environment. The doctors and the nurses in hospice treat their patients and families with care and professionalism that eases both physical and emotional pain.
Recently I read an opinion piece from the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal penned by a doctor who works in hospice. The article provided some real insight into what the staff of hospice provides everyday. It is a quick read that I would recommend if you have any questions about hospice. CLICK HERE to read it. It is well worth it. You will see that hospice is about providing a dignified way to die. That’s what we all ask, isn’t it?
I would like to hear about your experience with the staff at hospice. Please leave a comment below.