of care and a philosophy of care which focuses on the palliation of a
terminally ill patient's symptoms. These symptoms can be physical,
emotional, spiritual or social in nature. The concept of hospice has
been evolving since the 11th century. Then, and for centuries
thereafter, hospices were places of hospitality for the sick, wounded,
or dying, as well as those for travelers and pilgrims.
The modern concept
of hospice includes palliative care for the incurably ill given in such
institutions as hospitals or nursing homes, but also care provided to
those who would rather die in their own homes. Hospice in the United
States has grown from a volunteer-led movement to improve care for
people dying alone, isolated, or in hospitals, to a significant part of
the health care system.
In 2008, 1.45 million individuals and their families received hospice
care. Hospice is the only Medicare benefit that includes
pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, twenty-four hour/seven day a week
access to care and support for loved ones following a death. Most
hospice care is delivered at home. Hospice care is also available to
people in home-like hospice residences, nursing homes, assisted living
facilities, veterans' facilities, hospitals, and prisons.