The guiding principle of hospice is to ensure that a person’s death is as dignified and comfortable as possible, to maintain a patient’s quality of life and avoid unnecessary suffering. The role of hospice is to provide medical care and emotional support for the terminally ill. Hospice caregivers also provide valuable support to patients’ families. Some hospice organizations also provide palliative care for non-hospice patients. Palliative care is relieving symptoms or suffering, without attempting to cure an illness or disease.
Hospice organizations provide medical care via doctors and nurses who help advise and administer medications to ease suffering. They also help patients’ families make arrangements to acquire necessary medical equipment. Social workers are also available to help families and patients with the emotional process. Hospice providers also offer grief counseling, and some offer spiritual guidance. As with Levinson’s Aftercare Resources, hospice organizations are known for their continued support of families after the patient’s death. Some hospice organizations in the Baltimore-area are religious, some are not. Some are for-profit, some are not. All are committed to easing the process of death and dying for the terminally ill and their families.
Hospice services are available in one’s own home, in some hospitals, as well as at dedicated hospice facilities. It is important to know that hospice organizations will evaluate patients several times over the course of someone’s illness to determine their eligibility for hospice care and help advise the family, even before they are actually providing hospice services.
Within the Jewish community, there are some important resources, such as Jewish Community Services’ resources for Aging and Caregiving. Their assistance with Elder Care Management begins with helping families make decisions as their loved ones age, and they can also provide information about important end-of-life resources such as hospice care.