Holistic Approaches in Hospice: Integrating Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Support

Physician practice - medical visit - doctor and patient

A person can be under hospice care for a lengthy period of time. According to recent studies by Trella Health in 2022, the average hospice stay is 78 days. Patients typically have an illness considered incurable and may be expected to live 6 months or less. 

Lately, there has been a trend towards a more holistic approach to hospice care. Here, we’ll cover what hospice is – the difference between hospice and palliative care, and the new holistic methods. 

What Is Hospice?

Hospice is a healthcare service that caters to people with an illness considered incurable.

 According to government statistics, approximately one in five people are discharged from hospice facilities to live the rest of their time at home. 

Hospice in San Diego will treat the symptoms of the illness and provide palliative care. Palliative care is not always hospice. So, if you hear that a person is receiving it, don’t assume they’re dying. 

What’s the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?

Hospice Care:

Hospice in San Diego is care given by a team of healthcare professionals that focuses on comfort only. There is no intention to cure the patient because they’ve been given a prognosis of six months or less to live. 

It’s a time when people enrolled in the program can be peaceful with their loved ones for the time they have left without the worry or stress about their care. 

Their loved ones can do the same. 

Hospice care in San Diego is provided in the home or at a facility. This can be a hospital or nursing home. The patient can make their wishes known, or the family can carry them out as a durable power of attorney.  It’s important to have medical paperwork and Wills drawn up in mid-life and be ready to change them if needed. 

The process is easier if there’s a need for hospice or medical interventions. Otherwise, loved ones are left to make decisions that may not be aligned with their loved ones’ wishes.  

Hospice focuses on the quality of life. Traditionally, it was mostly pain relief, physical comfort for the dying, and counseling for the family. It’s always been a valuable service, but missing the opportunity to serve the unique needs of each patient. That’s changing rapidly and with great success. 

Palliative Care: 

Palliative care can be geared towards making the patient feel more comfortable with the intention of curing or bettering the illness they have. 

That’s why it shouldn’t be associated with hospice only. Palliative care is typically given to those with chronic illnesses such as COPD, heart failure, Aids or HIV, Dementia, and other permanent or long-term cognitive or neurological conditions. 

Palliative care patients need an extra care plan for their comfort in order to live with their condition. There is no need for a terminal prognosis or hospice care in San Diego to receive palliative care. 

For a person who undergoes treatment such as chemotherapy, a palliative care team will provide a care plan to help the patient cope with the side effects as comfortably as possible. 

The care plan can include a team consisting of professionals who are comprised of spiritual, psychological, yoga practices, religious guidance, and counseling. Anything to align with the patient’s wishes and needs. 

Holistic Approach to Hospice Care

The holistic approach to hospice care is a fairly new concept. So is hospice, but it’s been around longer. The new process has been accepted and has been met with great success. There was a niche that needed to be filled. Now, the patients and their families are treated as a unit–because that’s what they are.

At no other time than sickness and tragedy is a family or friends drawn closer. Oftentimes, apart from the spouses or the children,  extended family and friends are not treated the same. 

Today, we live in a more inclusive world and our family can be anyone. The emotional and psychological toll of watching someone deteriorate and become unrecognizable to you is heart-wrenching. In part, the purpose of a holistic hospice approach is for the family and friends. 

The other side of the purpose is for the patient, which is the larger part. It’s based on the premise that everyone deserves to live, walk their journey, and end it the way that is aligned with their wishes. 

It’s a hard thing to talk about and plan, but that’s what the holistic approach relieves for the person and their families. All the patient has to do is express their wishes on paper and verbally. The rest is taken care of by the professionals recruited to provide the care. 

For example; you have a patient that is a spiritual but non-religious person. They could have a non-denominational chaplain come to counsel them in a way that makes them comfortable. 

Or, they may want to have a naturopathic doctor come and meditate with them or do breath work to relieve pain and stress. This can be done with traditional religious beliefs and traditions too. 

The other types of care could come from volunteers that are matched with the person to participate in a hobby or interest they share with the patient. The point is to raise the quality of life and not just let them sit and think about their situation. 

There is then the important, more mundane care which is cleaning of the home and making the space they are in feel better. Maintaining them, feeding them, and bathing them.

They’ll have any counsel they seek to talk about it whenever they want. But, they can do what makes them happy and participate in their life for the time they have left fully. 

Sometimes it only takes a volunteer to come and sit with them to listen to their life story. You can learn much from an older person and those who know and have accepted the end of their life. 

It is at these times that people may savor the life they have for every moment. The people working with people in hospice in San Diego can be a part of the journey to the end of life knowing that they made someone’s passage easier and more joyous. 

Interesting Related Article: “What Is Hospice Care?