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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Health answers: What does home hospice care involve?

Q. What does home hospice care involve?

A. Hospice care provides support for the comfort and well-being of patients at the end of their lives; hospice patients usually have terminal conditions and have been given a doctor’s prognosis of six months or less to live. While hospice care can take place in a facility, “most hospice care in the US is provided in the patient’s own home,” says Diane Stringer, president and CEO of Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston. It does not involve round-the-clock medical care, she adds. “It is
intermittent visits by members of the hospice team.”

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That team is usually led by a nurse who coordinates care in consultation with a physician, and can provide pain relief, medical care, and equipment related to managing the patient’s terminal diagnosis. Other team members can include a social worker who offers emotional and practical support, a chaplain who provides spiritual support, a hospice aid who assists with personal care, and hospice volunteers who spend time with patients and help around the house. Massage, alternative therapies, and support groups may also be available.

“We provide a lot of support for the family, a lot of education about how to care for someone at home,” says Joyce Gallagher, director of nurses for Hospice of the Good Shepherd. Care is tailored to individual needs, with on-call help when needed.

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