So… What is Hospice? |

So… What is Hospice?

In an effort to make the word “hospice” a bit less daunting, The Wildwood Independent has invited Hospice of the Foothills to write a regular column to answer questions from our community. — md

Q. What is Hospice?

A. Hospice is many things. Some say it’s a godsend, others say they couldn’t have gone through their loved one’s illness and eventual death without it. Others say they wish they hadn’t waited so long to call now that they know the level of help and care that is available.

I suppose I should explain in more detail. Hospice is a specialized type of care for those facing a life-threatening illness, and for their family and caregivers.

A patient is qualified to receive hospice care when a physician has given a prognosis of about 6 months, if he disease follows its normal course.

It allows a patient to reclaim the end-of-life as a human experience, rather than a primarily medical one. At HOF we believe death is a natural part of life and that laughter and joy are part of this final chapter. We strive for our patients and their families to live life to the fullest and approach their final days prepared for death.

The hospice care team is comprised of a physician, nurse, aides, social worker, and volunteers. This team addresses the patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs through a comprehensive and interactive approach. This care team also helps the family with their needs, including respite from caregiving, emotional and spiritual support during the patient’s illness, and bereavement support when that time arrives. Social workers can help the patient and family get their affairs in order which can be overwhelming at a time like this.

All of this is provided at no cost to the patient or their families at Hospice of the Foothills. How is that possible? Through the generous donations received in the community, Hospice of the Foothills (a nonprofit hospice organization) can cover expenses for the patient not covered by their insurance or Medicare, so there is never a charge for services. Not all hospices operate in the same way, so always ask these questions.

Trained volunteers are available to give respite to the caregiver, provide special services such as caring for a pet, playing music, light housekeeping, or just being there to provide some friendly companionship. Hospice of the Foothills has two volunteer training sessions each year, in September and March. Our volunteers are carefully screened and well trained, so you can trust they will provide excellent services. Our next Volunteer Training will be Sept. 17 – 20, and if you are interested, please contact Diane Barlow at 530-274-5108.

Hospice care is provided wherever the patient resides — in their home, a loved one’s home, a skilled nursing facility, wherever they are. The patient and their family will receive specialized visits from their care team based on their individual needs and desires.

Although customized, a typical care plan includes pain and symptom management, personal care, social services, spiritual support, respite care, grief support and bereavement services. At Hospice of the Foothills, our professional care team consults with the patient, their physician and family to create an individualized patient-centered care plan that involves a high level of dignity and respect.

The reality is that all of us will one day die. The other reality is that it is difficult for many of us to think about it, and to talk about it openly.

I hope by reading this you will learn what hospice is, and how it helps the patient and their family prepare for the best death experience possible. I hope the “hospice” word will bring positive feelings of assistance and caring for you or your loved one at the end-of-life.

Hospice of the Foothills is celebrating our 40th year in our community! We will celebrate on Sept. 13 with “Moonlight Magic” at the Alta Sierra Country Club. Tickets are almost sold out, so if you are interested call today, 530-274-5161.

If you have a question you would like to see answered here, please send it to Mary Anne Davis, Marketing/Events Manager, at, or by mail to Hospice of the Foothills, 11270 Rough & Ready Hwy., Grass Valley, CA 95945.

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