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“The term “hospice” originated as a place of shelter and rest for weary or ill travelers on a long journey.  The name, “Hospice Palliative Care” was first applied to specialized care for dying patients by Dr. Dame Cicely Saunders, who began her work with the terminally ill in 1948 and eventually went on to create the first modern hospice—in London called St. Christopher’s Hospice.

Saunders concept of specialized care for the dying was brought to the United States in 1963 at Yale University and focused on the concept of holistic hospice care and the dramatic improvements received in symptoms management & relief when this concept was applied to terminally ill patients.

Today, Hospice Care is typically provided in one’s home, Residential Care Homes, or Assisted Living Facilities.  Some Hospice Programs have an in-patient unit where patients can go for short periods of time for heavy care needs that the hospice team cannot provide in the home environment the length of stay is typically 1 week.

Services provided by a hospice program include; Social Worker (SW), Spiritual Advisor, registered nurse (RN), Certified Nurse Aide (CNA), Medical Doctor (MD), and sometimes community volunteers.  The nurse makes weekly visits but can visit more frequently if needed and coordinates the care of other disciplines; i.e. CNA’s to provide assistance with personal care, like bathing and dressing a few times a week. Families still provide assistance with personal care or activities of daily living when hospice is not on site.  Social workers and spiritual advisors are available for added support and assistance to help address other needs that may arise during the transition.

The Hospice Insurance Benefit replaces all preexisting medical insurance, such as Medicare or Advantage Medicare. Typically visits from your own private physicians, hospital stays, Physical therapy, and medical testing such as x- rays, are not covered under the hospice benefit.

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