For Patients & Families

Hospice is a philosophy of care focusing on comfort and quality of life at the end of life. Hospice programs exist throughout Washington state. All, except volunteer hospices, are required to be licensed by the State of Washington Department of Health. In addition, most hospices are also certified by Medicare. Volunteer hospices are required to be registered with the State of Washington Department of Health. No matter where you live, a hospice program is available to provide end-of-life care.

What is Hospice Care?

  • Hospice is a concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments.
  • Hospice provides choices to patients about services available and supports the wishes of patients about their care.
  • Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death.
  • Hospice’s goal is to improve the quality of a patient’s last days by offering comfort and dignity and by addressing all symptoms of a disease, with a special emphasis on offering relief from pain and suffering.
  • Hospice provides patients with the support to spend the remaining days of life in the place of their choice, surrounded by loved ones.
  • Hospice care is provided by a team-oriented group of specially trained professionals and volunteers who provide support for the patient and their family.
  • Hospice services are provided on an intermittent basis as needed by the individual, but services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support and care to patients and family members.
  • Hospice is sensitive to the patient’s personal, cultural and religious values, beliefs and practices.
  • Hospice deals with the emotional, social and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and the patient’s family and friends.
  • Hospice offers a variety of bereavement and counseling services to families before and after a patient’s death.

(This information on hospice care is compiled from a variety of sources including the Hospice Foundation.)

About Palliative Care

Palliative care is a philosophy of care focusing on comfort and quality of life throughout a life-limiting illness.  Palliative care programs are a relatively new concept.  They can be based in a hospital, medical center, home, home health agency or physician clinic.  The model of care varies, but the philosophy and concept are similar throughout all programs.

Palliative care means patient and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. Palliative care throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs and facilitating patient autonomy, access to information, and choice.

The measure of life is not its length, but its fullness.  Palliative care means making every day the best it can be.  In Chinese, the symbol for palliative care stands for “nurturing living.”  The emphasis is adding life to days rather than days to life.

Dignity in human life includes the balance of the human physical, emotional and spiritual capacities.  Palliative care attempts to create a balance in these areas.  Palliative care expands traditional disease-model medical treatments to include the goals of enhancing the quality of life for a patient and family.