Mar 27

Taking the Mystery Out of Hospice Care & Palliative Care

Mary Crowe, LICSW, ACHP-SW of Care Dimensions visited Springwell to teach a continuing education program for staff about hospice care and palliative care. Crowe kicked off the program by asking what the terms hospice and palliative care mean because she said there are many misconceptions about both words.

Hospice care is a philosophy of care for people who are terminally ill and the medical plan of care is to maximize comfort and quality of life. The focus is on mind, body and spirit. She noted that things such as anxiety, struggling to complete unfinished business in life, or a desire to make amends with someone can cause patients as much suffering as physical pain. It is the hospice team’s goal to help the individual, their family and caregivers with all aspects of needs to alleviate suffering and improve quality of life. As a result, the hospice team is comprised of many professionals and volunteers who are specially trained to provide all of the important components of care.

Sharing wisdom from years of experience, Crowe noted that “dying is a stage of living and it has to go well. It matters to the person, their family and their caregivers. Hospice is not just about the last days or hours of life and it is not about giving up hope. It is about redefining hope to be comfortable and live fully for whatever time a person has left.”

Palliative care is similar to hospice care in that the focus is on comfort and quality of life for individuals with life threatening illnesses. Palliative care also addresses physical, psychosocial, spiritual and social needs. Support for the patient, the family and caregivers is provided in palliative care situations.  It differs from hospice care in that an individual can receive or pursue curative, disease modifying or life prolonging treatment while also participating in palliative care. It helps to clarify goals of care together with family and the medical team.

Both hospice and palliative care help individuals maintain control, dignity and alleviate pain and symptoms.

For more information about hospice or palliative care, please contact Springwell at 617-926-4100 and ask for the Information and Consultation department.