The word “hospice” stems from the Latin word “hospitium” meaning guesthouse. It was originally used to describe a place of shelter for weary and sick travelers returning from religious pilgrimages. During the 1960’s, Dr. Cicely Saunders, a British physician began the modern hospice movement by establishing St. Christopher’s Hospice near London. St. Christopher’s organized a team approach to professional caregiving, and was the first program to use modern pain management techniques to compassionately care for the dying.
Since 1993 VNA’s hospice program has been providing compassionate, skilled care for patients, when no further curative treatments are to be provided for a terminal Illness.
Our team directed approach is lead by skilled medical directors (physicians) and specially trained caregivers who assist, support and comfort the dying patient and their family. This is a comprehensive program of care provided by, nurses, counselors and other professionals designed to keep the patient comfortable and alert at home, while emotional support is given to all family members.
An Interdisciplinary Team approach is used to provide hospice care. The team is made up of the patient, a primary caregiver (family or friend of the patient), patient’s primary physician, the hospice medical director (a physician), a nurse, social worker, chaplain, and volunteer. Other possible members of this team include a personal care aide, homemaker and physical, occupational or speech therapist. All treatment measures are designed to promote comfort. The goal of hospice is to respectfully permit the patient to remain fully alert and functioning within the family network at home while experiencing little or no symptoms of the disease. Some call this “quality of life”. We call it the right to live fully right up to the last moment.