Understanding Hospice Care

Sharing the Journey

Since 1980, Hospice of the Piedmont has provided its special care for thousands of terminally ill patients and their families throughout Central Virginia.  At its core, Hospice is about living – enhancing the quality of life of patients and respecting the patient’s and the family’s right to make decisions that affect their life and death.  Hospice is also about preserving human dignity and the sanctity of human life.

Hospice care is widely regarded as the “gold standard” in pain control and symptom management for those facing a life-limiting illness, and the vast majority of Hospice patients can be cared for at home.  Sadly, this is not always possible.  The time may come when families find themselves unable to provide the care required for their loved ones to remain at home.  When this occurs, the options are limited and often unsatisfactory.  Hospice House can be a godsend for these patients and their families.

What is Hospice?
Hospice is grounded in the conviction that everyone is entitled to good care at the end of life, focusing on comfort rather than cure for those who have weeks or months versus years to live.  The care that Hospice of the Piedmont provides is available for anyone in the terminal phase of any illness, including heart disease, lung disease, cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer’s.

Dignity, respect, choice, comfort and quality of life are the foundations of Hospice of the Piedmont.   Care is provided wherever the patient lives – private residence, independent or assisted living facility, personal home care, skilled nursing facility or at our own Hospice House residence at 501 Park Street in Charlottesville.

Working closely with physicians, Hospice of the Piedmont uses interdisciplinary teams of nurses, nurses’ aides, social workers, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement counselors to ensure that patients live and die as they and their families wish.  At each step of the journey, patients and their loved ones are provided with practical, emotional and spiritual support.

When Hospice Care is Appropriate
Hospice care is appropriate when the following conditions are met:

  • The physician thinks that the patient’s life expectancy is 6 months or less if the disease runs its normal course
  • The patient, family and physician agree and understand that the focus of Hospice care is on comfort (pain control, symptom management), not cure.

Admission to Hospice Care
The choice of when Hospice care should begin is very personal and differs from person to person.  In general, the earlier the Hospice referral occurs, the more valuable and meaningful the Hospice experience will be.  By requesting Hospice care early, time is available to fully support the patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Referrals come most often from hospitals, physicians or family members.  However, anyone – a family member, friend, or member of the clergy, for example – may refer someone to Hospice.