What is Hospice

“To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always” – 15th century folk saying

Hospice is care provided by nurses and others to terminally ill individuals. A hospice agency is an interdisciplinary team including nurses, nursing aides, social workers, chaplains, volunteers, therapists, pharmacists, hospice physicians, and the individual’s personal physician. The hospice team is available at all times – seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Hospice nurses and other staff will calmly, cheerfully, and competently care for and comfort terminally ill patients and their loved ones who are facing the stress of life’s final journey. The hospice team will meet with the patient, family and caregivers to develop a plan to manage the patient’s pain and other symptoms. They provide necessary medicines, supplies and equipment as well as adjunct therapies such as music therapy, aroma therapy and companion animals. They train and support caregivers in the care of the patient. They provide care that enhances the dignity, comfort and quality of the end-of-life experience. At the time of death, the hospice staff can also assist with funeral arrangements and bereavement care and counseling to surviving loved ones.

Hospice care is usually provided in the home by nurses and others who visit frequently. Unfortunately, home hospice care is not feasible for everyone. Some terminally ill patients may not have a family member or loved one to care for them. For others, there may not be a family member or friend nearby with the time or resources to serve as a caregiver. The caregiver may not be able to manage the demanding care that the patient needs because of work or other obligations, or because the caregiver is elderly and frail. A patient coming from the hospital may have symptoms or medical conditions that are too difficult or complicated to manage in the home.

When terminal care cannot be managed at home, the patient must often choose between a hospital and a nursing home. Hospitals and nursing homes, however, adhere to a “curing” model that is often in conflict with the “caring” model of hospice care. Hospitals and nursing homes emphasize treatments and interventions to help a patient recover and get well. They are not designed to provide the palliative, end-of-life care needed by a terminally ill patient.

Hospice houses have evolved to provide the compassionate end-of-life care that terminally ill patients often cannot receive at home, in a hospital, or in a nursing home. They are medical facilities with a home-like atmosphere that provide private bedrooms to patients as well as common areas such as living rooms, dining rooms, and meeting rooms for family and loved ones.

Sojourn Center will be the only terminal care residential facility within the service areas of Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, Lewis Gale Hospital at Montgomery and Carilion Giles Memorial Hospital.