What is Hospice

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is for people who are in the final stages of an incurable illness. The goal is to ensure the patient is comfortable and able to live their last days as fully as possible.

Hospice care professionals do not cure diseases. Instead, they treat symptoms to improve their quality of life. They also aim to include family members and caregivers in decisions that affect a person’s care.

People can receive hospice care at home, in the hospital, at an extended care facility, or at a specialized hospice center. Most often hospice care occurs at home.

When should hospice care begin?

Hospice care should begin when an illness becomes so advanced it is no longer curable, and it is not possible to control it. It may be time for hospice care if a person:

  • has fewer than 6 months to live
  • is not seeing improvements to their health after treatment, and their quality of life rapidly declines
  • decides to stop treatments to prolong their life


A person may live longer than 6 months and continue to receive hospice care, if a doctor recertifies them.

What does hospice provide?

Hospice care includes the following:

  • symptom control and management
  • pain management
  • stress management and other mental health support
  • spiritual support
  • family support


Symptom management does not involve treatment of the illness directly, such as the use of chemotherapy to treat cancer. Instead, hospice care helps ease symptoms to ensure the person can live comfortably in their final days.

Family support is also provided by hospice. They let the family know what to expect which can include information about the dying process. Hospice teams also provide 24/7 support.