Hospice provides support and care for persons in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and as comfortably as possible. Hospice recognizes dying as part of the normal process of living and focuses on maintaining the quality of remaining life.

Hospice affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice exists in the hope and belief that through appropriate care, and the promotion of a caring community sensitive to their needs, patients and their families may be free to attain a degree of mental and spiritual preparation for death that is satisfactory to them. Hospice offers palliative care to terminally ill people and their families without regard for age, gender, nationality, race, creed, sexual orientation, disability, diagnosis, availability of a primary caregiver, or ability to pay.

A hospice program provides palliative care to terminally ill patients, and supportive services to patients, their families, and significant others, available for emergencies 24 hours a day 7 days a week, in both home and facility-based settings. Physical, social, spiritual, and emotional care is provided during the last stages of illness, during the dying process, and during bereavement by a medically-directed interdisciplinary team consisting of patients/families, professionals, and volunteers.

Palliative care is defined as treatment that enhances comfort, and improves the quality of the patient’s life. No specific therapy is excluded form consideration. The test of palliative treatment lies in the agreement by the patient, the physician, the primary caregiver, and the hospice team that the expected outcome is relief from distressing symptoms, easing of pain, and enhancement of quality of life. The decision to intervene with an active palliative treatment is based on the treatment’s ability to meet the stated goals rather than its effect on the underlying disease. Each patient’s needs must continue to be assessed and all treatment options explored and evaluated in the context of the patient ’s values and symptoms.