Hospice care, also called palliative care, is a special kind of care for people facing life-limiting (terminal) illness. Hospice and palliative care follow the belief that a person has the right to live life pain-free and with dignity. Hospice helps to provide families with the support they need during this time.

Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. In most cases, care is provided in the person's home. Hospice care is also provided in hospice centers, hospitals, and other long-term care facilities.

Hospice usually offers a team approach to home health care that includes:

  • Medical care
  • Pain management
  • Emotional and spiritual support

A hospice team usually includes:

  • Your child's health care provider
  • Hospice physician (or medical director)
  • Registered nurses
  • Home health aides
  • Social workers
  • Clergy or other counselors
  • Trained volunteers
  • Speech, physical, and occupational therapists, if needed

Members of the hospice team make regular visits to assess and provide care. Hospice staff is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ask your child's primary care provider (PCP) about hospice and palliative care services. You will need a prescription (written order) from the PCP before using hospice care. Hospice care may be covered by your child's health insurance plan. If so, make sure that the hospice agency you choose is in the plan's network.

Adapted from the Hospice and Palliative Care Federation, 800-962-2973 and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website.