Hospice provides a caring environment for the physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill and their families.
Comfort Care Philosophy
90% of our populations will experience a protracted terminal process prior to death. Whether it is the steady decline associated with a terminal diagnosis such as cancer, or the prolonged course of Alzheimer’s disease, most paths to the end of life share common symptoms. These symptoms—nausea, anorexia, fatigue, pain, shortness of breath, confusion and anxiety, for example—are frightening for patients and their caregivers. But hospice physicians and nurses are experts at managing these symptoms so that patients can enjoy their lives.
So what is comfort care? In most cases, it is the care we give patients when their doctors have given them a terminal diagnosis. Comfort care often begins when patients have heard the words: “There is nothing more we can do.” With the help of medications, diet changes, or alternative therapies such as massage and healing touch, hospice staff know that there is much that can be done to ease or eliminate troublesome symptoms.
We often encounter misinformation about hospice and comfort care. One such misconception is that comfort care shortens life. In fact, treating physically taxing symptoms may allow the body to live more comfortably and possibly longer, with the terminal illness. Another misconception is that entering the hospice is akin to “giving up”. In reality, pursuing aggressive treatment while hoping for a cure may actually hasten death.
National Statistics indicate that very few of us (less than 10 percent) will die suddenly. We know that it is difficult to predict, even for experts, how long people have left to live once they’ve received a terminal diagnosis (they’re correct less than 15% of the time). After 30 years of experience, Hospice of Saint John Staff has learned that people prefer to die comfortably, in a place of their choosing, surrounded by the people or things that bring them meaning. To that good end, hospice staff strives to meet our patients wherever they are on life’s final journey. Hospice achieves this by developing a personalized Plan of Care, communicating regularly with patients and their families, and managing troublesome end-of-life symptoms along the way.