The History of Hospice

The term “Hospice” comes from the same root word as “hospitality” and can be traced back to early Western Civilization when it was used to describe a place of shelter and rest for weary or sick travelers on long journeys. The term was first applied to specialized care for dying patients in 1967, at St. Christopher’s Hospice in a residential suburb of London. Today, the term “Hospice” refers to a steadily growing concept of humane and compassionate care which is implemented in a variety of settings including: in a patients’ homes, hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities or free-standing inpatient hospice facilities.

The philosophy of High Desert Hospice is to provide care for those in the last phase of a terminal-illness. The goal is to allow patients to live as fully and as comfortably as possible. Hospice care seeks to allow patients to carry on a pain-free and alert life. Our staff will also manage other symptoms so that their last days may be spent with dignity and quality at home or in a home-like setting.

High Desert Hospice offers palliative care, or comfort, rather than curative treatment. Under the direction of a Physician, High Desert Hospice uses research-tested methods of pain and symptom control.

High Desert Hospice emphasizes quality of patient life, rather than length of patient life. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death: it affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. The hospice movement stresses human values that go beyond the physical needs of the patient meeting emotional and spiritual needs as well.

High Desert Hospice considers the entire family to be the unit of care. Patients and their families are included in the decision-making process, and bereavement counseling is provided after the death of their loved ones for up to 13 months.

High Desert Hospice focuses on the entire family

The physical, emotional and spiritual complications of terminal illness affect everyone who is part of the patient’s life.  Our goal is to look at the patient and family together and to reduce the pain and worry for all.

Research shows that most of us would prefer to be at home when we’re sick. This is no different with a terminal illness. However, many families fear and can’t take on the responsibilities of home care.  Hospice reduces the practical burdens on the entire family through a managed system of physical, emotional and spiritual care.

Who will care for the family at home?

The hospice team is comprised of physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists, certified nursing assistants, chaplains, equipment suppliers, pharmacies, and volunteers. This team is known as the Inter-Disciplinary Group. The IDG meets bi-weekly and works together under the supervision of a physician to design and implement a specific care plan to meet your family’s needs. This is an un-common, yet most effective approach to care.

As needed, these professionals will come to you:

Each patient and family is assigned a Nurse/Case Manager who will coordinate the delivery of care. They will be there as often as necessary as an extension of your physician, to monitor and manage pain and symptoms. They will also educate the family on what to expect and how to help.

Certified Nursing Aide
A Certified Nursing Aide may make regular visits to assist patients with activities of daily living such as bathing, shaving, shampooing, and the changing of patients’ bed linens if needed.

Medical Social Worker
A Medical Social Worker can serve as liaison to other community resources that may be helpful to patients and families — with specific help on family relationships, the stress of the illness, financial, or legal issues and more.

A Chaplain is available for those who request spiritual assistance and support.

Specially Trained Volunteer
Specially Trained Volunteers are available as a companion, someone to talk with, someone to listen, and a friend to lean on.

How will Hospice work with my doctor?

At High Desert Hospice we have our own physician who can take over your care. If you would like to keep your current physician, we will work directly with them to create a care plan for you.

Where can I receive Hospice care?

In the home, assisted living centers, retirement centers, or skilled nursing facilities.

How are Hospice services paid for?

Patients with Medicare are fully covered for all High Desert Hospice services related to their terminal illness. Private insurance and HMO plans will often cover hospice services through a specific hospice benefit or through hospital, home health, or private duty benefits. Families are responsible for any remaining balance unpaid by insurers.

The numbers show that hospice care is substantially less expensive than the typical cycle of hospitalization and home health agency care. A High Desert Hospice Community Liaison and Social Worker will help you determine your eligibility for Medicare or insurance benefits, and if necessary, assist in finding resources for your family.

We serve all who need us. We help families that live in our community without resources.

When is the right time to seek Hospice care?

It is appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s options at any time during a life-limiting illness. The earlier High Desert Hospice can begin to help the patient and family, the more effective hospice service will be at improving quality of life and managing the physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial burdens associated with the illness.

We often hear from outpatients and family members, “I wish we would have known about this earlier so we could have started receiving services sooner.”

High Desert Hospice Community Liaisons are available 24/7 to consult with the patient and family in regards to hospice services.

Can our hospice patients show signs of recovery and return to traditional medical treatment?

Yes. Sometimes our patient’s conditions improve and the disease seems to be in remission. At this time patients may be discharged from High Desert Hospice services and released back to traditional medical care.

If a discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private payers will allow additional coverage for this purpose.

Does High Desert Hospice provide family services after the patient dies?

Yes. We provide continuing contact and support for family and friends for a minimum of 13 months following the death of a loved one. We offer a variety of support for anyone in the community who has been affected by the death of one of our patients.