What is hospice?   It is not a place, but a philosophy of care. It provides pain and symptom management, emotional support, spiritual care, and bereavement counseling for the patient and the family. The Medicare hospice benefit was designed to bring the care to the patient, not the patient to the care. The holistic approach to hospice recognizes that the mind, body and spirit are connected and contribute to the overall well-being of the individual as well as those they love.  The goal of hospice is to assist loved ones in providing care that result in a peaceful, dignified and comfortable death, because, in hospice, we realize that we cannot change the patients’ diagnosis or prognosis; so, the focus of care becomes on quality of life. Each person defines what quality of life means to them and the interdisciplinary team works together to achieve the patient’s goals.

What is the interdisciplinary team (IDT)?  It is what makes hospice unique! To be an interdisciplinary team, the hospice medical director, the RN case manager, the social worker, and chaplain must meet every two weeks to discuss the patient’s goals and plan of care. Complimentary therapy (such as aroma, dance, music, pet therapy)  and volunteers are also part of the IDT. Often people ask what is the difference between the care provided by other agencies in comparison to hospice. The difference is the IDT and the perspectives that the team membes bring in how they look at achieving the patient’s goals for care!

If you need hospice care, we will be there! The most wonderful part of how the hospice benefit was designed is that we provide care where ever the patient lives. Our intention is not to replace care that is already in place, but rather add an additional layer of care that is specific to end of life (EOL) needs. Additionally, Hospice Alliance offers an 8-bed hospice house. Our hospice house serves a special population of patients that need additional care when nearing EOL. They may need this care for a variety of reasons, such as their caregiver is also elderly and frail, a working spouse, patients who are facing EOL alone, or patients who do not want their family to be uncomfortable because the death occurred at their home.

Hospice Alliance began providing hospice in 1981, when a dedicated group of citizens founded an organization to support the needs of dying patients and their families. Our organization was founded before the Hospice Medicare Benefit, which underscores the mission of our organization.  Through the years, our mission and goals for care remain unchanged: To meet each person’s needs with dignity and respect, regardless of ability to pay.

Rita Hagen
Executive Director
Hospice Alliance