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Hospice Hospital: 3 Services to Help You Navigate Compassionate Transitions

A healthcare worker caring for a hospice patient at a hospital

When your doctor announces that your loved one has a late-stage disease, it can feel like the world stops turning. The days that once felt mundane take on a new weight and urgency. It’s natural to want to do everything possible to experience comfort, peace, and the highest possible quality of life during their remaining time.

Hospice care can play a vital role in this journey. While many people associate it with care provided at home, hospitals increasingly offer dedicated hospice services and specialized units. This brings the expertise and gentle support of hospice into the hospital setting, ensuring the best possible care throughout every stage of illness.

Let’s explore what hospice looks like in different environments, including hospitals, and how it can benefit patients and their families.

Understanding Hospice Care: An Overview

Hospice is a specialized type of care for those facing a terminal illness. It focuses on providing support for individuals with a life expectancy of roughly six months or less if the illness follows its natural course.

Contrary to what most people think, hospice is not about giving up life — instead, it’s about shifting priorities. Rather than treatments intended to cure the illness, the focus switches to making the patient comfortable, maintaining the best quality of life, and providing emotional and spiritual support.

Facing a terminal illness is an emotionally overwhelming experience for both the patient and their loved ones. That’s where hospice care steps in. The care team becomes your compassionate support system with experts to handle physical symptoms, emotional struggles, and spiritual support. Hospice helps both the patient and their family navigate one of life’s most profoundly difficult journeys.

Types of Hospice Care Settings

A female nurse checking up on a senior patient.

Hospice providers understand that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t work for end-of-life care. Your loved one’s needs and preferences are unique, and hospice is designed to adapt to their situation. Here’s a look at different settings where hospice care can be provided:

1. Inpatient hospice facilities

Inpatient hospice facilities offer round-the-clock care for terminally ill patients who might need a higher level of medical support or whose symptoms can’t easily be managed at home. They provide a comforting, home-like environment with a skilled care team always on standby.

2. Hospice care at hospitals

Many hospitals have dedicated hospice units or partner with hospice agencies for seamless care. Typically, this is the best choice for patients who are already hospitalized when the decision for hospice is made. It allows for a smooth transition to comfort-focused care without the stress of being transferred to a separate facility.

3. Hospice care in a home setting

For many people, the most comforting place to spend their final days is in their own home — surrounded by loved ones, familiar sights and sounds, and the memories built over a lifetime. Hospice makes this possible. Nurses, home health aides, and other team members come to you, offering care, support, and respite for family caregivers.

4. Outpatient hospice services

Sometimes specific hospice services, like grief counseling, spiritual support, or focused pain management visits, might be offered at a clinic or community center. This option provides flexibility and convenience for patients and families who may not require in-home visits for every aspect of care.

Choosing a hospice setting — be it in a hospice hospital or hospice at home — is a personal decision. Make sure to consider your loved one’s medical needs, their preferences, and the level of support your home can provide.

A hospice social worker can help you weigh the options and find the best setting that offers the most comfort, peace, and highest quality of life for your senior mom or dad.

Services Offered in Hospitals for Hospice Care

A female doctor getting the vitals of a hospice patient.

Hospice care addresses the holistic needs of the patients, offering comfort and a better quality of life. If your loved one has moved to the hospital’s hospice unit or was recommended to a hospice home by your doctor, they receive aid in these areas.

1. Palliative care and pain management

The hospice teams know comfort is critical to a better quality of life. They’re experts in managing distressing symptoms like pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and other discomforts.

Doctors, nurses, and aides work closely with your family to create a personalized care plan for optimum care. When physical suffering is reduced, it frees up precious energy so your loved one can focus on things that make them joyful, such as spending time with you.

2. Emotional and spiritual support

Facing a terminal illness brings up a complex range of emotions — fear, sadness, guilt, anger, and sometimes moments of unexpected peace. It can be spiritually challenging as well.

Hospice care includes counselors, chaplains, and social workers who are there to listen without judgment and provide support. They help the patient and family members navigate the rollercoaster ride of emotions, find ways to cope, and seek meaning in life during a rough time.

3. Bereavement services for loved ones

Hospice care doesn’t end after the patient passes away. The pain of loss remains, and hospice recognizes this. Many programs offer grief support and counseling for family members in the weeks and months following their loved one’s death; up to 13 months. This can be a lifeline, offering connection and a safe space to process grief when others may have moved on.

Benefits of Hospice Care

A volunteer talking to a woman patient lying in bed.

Choosing hospice care opens the door to numerous benefits, including:

Better quality of life

When a cure is no longer the goal, the focus flips entirely to making the patient’s remaining time as painless as possible. Hospice teams are experts at managing distressing symptoms, such as shortness of breath or anxiety, that can increase suffering.

Why is this important? When your loved one is less burdened by physical discomfort, they have more energy and mental clarity to engage in the things they still enjoy. They may find renewed pleasure in simple things, like a conversation with an old friend, listening to music, or feeling the warmth of sunshine on their face. The hospice experience isn’t just about the length of months it adds to the lifespan, but also the realizations, depth, and meaning of their existence.

End-of-life comfort and dignity

Hospice care ensures your senior parent’s end-of-life journey is handled with the utmost respect, sensitivity, and a focus on their wishes. Imagine how comforting it feels as a family member knowing your loved one said their goodbyes with a smile and less suffering — thanks to the compassionate care services by the hospice team.

Hospice upholds the dignity of people approaching their end of life, recognizing that every life holds inherent value even in this final phase.

Caregiver respite and support

Caring for someone nearing their final days is an incredible act of love and extremely rewarding. Yet, it also takes an excessive toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The hospice team offers practical support, including assistance with activities of daily living, medication administration, companionship, and respite care, giving family caregivers a brief time to disconnect from their care responsibilities and rest.

They also offer emotional support in case the surge of worries and problems starts to get overwhelming. Talking to a compassionate social worker or chaplain can make a world of difference for isolated or exhausted caregivers.

Roughly 11% of family caregivers report deteriorating physical health due to their responsibilities. The rate of strain is high for those who care for people with elevated care demands, like those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Respite from hospice helps prevent caregiver burnout, ensuring you look positive, energetic, and happy when facing your loved one. It allows you to stay present with them.

Choosing Hospice Care for Your Loved One

An aging wife holding her husband’s hand, showing compassion and care

Deciding to get hospice care is one of the most difficult care decisions you’ll face. However, it’s important to ensure they receive the care needed to increase their quality of life. Family members are often closely involved in these decisions since most patients are unable to express their wishes and become fully dependent on others.

As a result, many adult children feel burden, self-doubt, and guilt about whether they’re making the right decision for a loved one. In some cases, family conflicts can happen, which impacts the quality provision of hospice care.

Here’s some guidance to help you navigate this challenging time.

Base care decisions on your knowledge

Open and honest conversations with the doctors are important because you gain an understanding of your loved one’s prognosis, remaining treatment options, and how hospice can help. Don’t hesitate to ask questions — even the hard ones.

The more knowledge you have, the more empowered you’ll feel to make a decision that truly aligns with your loved one’s wishes and priorities. Also, if they’re unable to participate in these conversations, reflect deeply on who they are as a person. What brings them comfort? What do they value most? Use those insights as your guiding light in making choices on their behalf.

Understand the role of the hospice team

A hospice team isn’t just a bunch of medical professionals — it’s a compassionate support system for your whole family. Doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides, and volunteers bring their unique skills and perspectives to improve your situation.

Learning the specific roles of your hospice team increases your understanding of who to turn to for specific needs. Should you talk to the nurse if your loved one needs feeding assistance? The most likely person to help in this case is the health aide, caregiver, or volunteer. By getting involved with your hospice team, you’ll know exactly who to consult for managing painful symptoms, emotional support, and companionship care needs.

Financial considerations and insurance coverage

Financial worries add to the burden. Fortunately, hospice care is often covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. The hospice provider you choose can walk you through your specific coverage, clarifying any out-of-pocket costs.


If a loved one has served the country as a veteran, they may be eligible for comprehensive hospice benefits through the Veterans Affairs. The agency has additional options that go beyond standard coverage, so it’s worth discussing how it works with the VA care team.

Even if your loved one isn’t facing a terminal diagnosis now, learning more about hospice care allows for informed future conversations. It helps you prepare for when the time comes. You don’t need to grapple in the dark. You’re better equipped to make care decisions guided by knowledge and compassion, which sometimes help to maintain your emotional stability.

More importantly, know you’re not alone in this journey. Reach out to your hospice team, explore resources from organizations like the NHPCO, and be gentle with yourself throughout this process.

Hospice Care Providers and Accreditation

A close up of a healthcare worker’s hand holding the patient’s.

When selecting a hospice provider, you’re entrusting them with the care of your loved one during a vulnerable time. To ensure the highest quality care, it pays to know and understand national standards for hospice programs, the process of accreditation, and the qualifications of dedicated hospice professionals.

The NHPCO sets rigorous standards to promote high-quality hospice services. When choosing a provider, look for the NHPCO membership, which signifies their dedication to excellence.

  • Accreditation of hospice facilities: Programs like the Joint Commission offer accreditation to hospice facilities demonstrating a commitment to the highest standards of patient care.
  • Qualifications of hospice care team members: Hospice professionals have specialized training in end-of-life care, ensuring they’re armed with the knowledge and sensitivity to provide expert support. While there isn’t one central website listing all qualifications, here are useful resources.

The NHPCO website offers information on hospice careers and their related education/certification requirements.

Hospice-specific job boards can give you an idea of the common credentials required for each team member role.

What Hospice Can Look Like for You

Understanding how hospice care affects real lives can help you envision how it can support your own family. Consider this scenario:

Imagine your aging father, diagnosed with severe heart failure. Doctors say that treatment is becoming less effective. Hospital stays are frequent, with each time more difficult and draining than the last. You want him to be comfortable, both physically and emotionally. However, the responsibility of managing his care feels overwhelming. A doctor suggests exploring hospice options.

At first, you might resist. After all, the word ‘hospice’ feels so final. You might even feel guilty, thinking you’re giving up on your dad. But after learning more, you start to see it differently, and your perspective shifts.

A hospice team seamlessly takes over coordinating care. Your father’s pain is finally managed well. A social worker checks in with you and the rest of the family, helping everyone process the emotional toll. Even a volunteer stops by regularly, offering companionship for your father.

You gain much-needed time to be a part of the family — not as a family caregiver but as a child to your father. His quality of life improves significantly. He experiences peace in his final weeks, a gift to both him and your entire family. This is what hospice can do both for you and your loved one.

A Word of Hope and Encouragement

Facing a terminal illness is emotionally and physically taxing. Plus, it also puts a big dent in your financial resources if a loved one hasn’t prepared for long-term care. However, hospice care offers a lifeline, a way to navigate this challenging journey with compassionate support.

You get an opportunity to work with people who aren’t related to you by blood yet respect and honor your loved one’s wishes, put their needs in priority, and help them find moments of grace amidst difficult days.

If hospice care is the right choice for your loved one, start your conversation with Amy’s Eden Senior Care. We nurture a home setting in a peaceful environment where your senior mom or dad can enjoy their final moments receiving your love.

Hospice isn’t a sign of giving up. Instead, we empower families through it so they can make the best care decisions on behalf of their loved ones.


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