Historically, people associated hospice care with cancer care as some of the earliest patients to use hospice care were those who had terminal cancer. Hospice care is not specific to cancer patients only but certainly cancer patients make up a portion of those served by hospice care. Hospice care is open to anyone who is dying or whose condition is deteriorating toward death and meets pre-determined criteria. Those eligible for hospice consideration include the person who is dying from a condition that is no longer treatable or curable, a condition that is progressive and fatal or from natural causes at any age. Hospice care is valuable and available to those from birth through old age and encompasses those with every type of medical condition and physical symptom one can imagine.
Hospice care in Minnesota is provided by a team of health professionals, supportive services and volunteers. A person receiving hospice care can expect regular visits of a registered nurse to evaluate their condition and needs and develop a plan to address symptoms and challenges. Home Health Aides are utilized to aid in personal care like bathing and showering. Supportive staff including Social Workers and Chaplains provide the patient and family supportive resources to aid in preparing for death and provide ongoing bereavement services after the death has occurred. Ancillary services like massage therapy, music therapy, volunteer visitors and other quality of life resources are added to the patient’s plan of care as desired and available per each individual agencies offerings.
Preparing for death in a manner that is supportive, well equipped, surrounded by health care professionals experienced in promoting comfort and symptom management creates an environment that enhances the opportunity to experience the final stage in life: death in a manner that enhances dignity and provides for the opportunity of healing and comfort during a time of loss and grief.