What is Hospice?

Hospice is an inter-disciplinary, medically-directed program that uses the combined knowledge and skills of professionals and volunteers to support an individual and their family in the end-of-life experience. Hospice programs make it possible for people to spend the final time of their lives at home or in home-like settings with support from physicians, nurses, spiritual caregivers, social workers, home health aides and volunteers.

Early introduction of the hospice team is the most effective approach for creating a uniquely supportive environment for the client, family and caregivers. Together, the hospice team places the emphasis on palliative and supportive care, symptom control and pain management. Many of our agencies offer Medicare-certified hospice programs.

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Basic Elements of Hospice Care

  • Care of the client and family as one unit
  • Pain and symptom management
  • 24-hour staff availability
  • Medical and nursing care
  • Social services
  • Coordination of medications, medical supplies and durable medical equipment
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Specially trained hospice volunteer support

At Home or In a Facility
Hospice care is most often provided at home, but those who have elected hospice care can continue to receive the same approach if a hospital stay becomes necessary. Nursing home residents are also eligible for hospice care if the facility has made arrangements with a local hospice provider.There are several Hospice Houses in New Hampshire which can offer alternative settings for end-of-life care. The hospice house team provides a skilled level of care for adult and pediatric clients who may have complex pain and symptom management needs that can’t be addressed at home.

  • Hospice is focused on caring for the whole person, including physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of both client and family.
  • The members who make up the hospice team depend on the needs of each client and their unique situation. Once enrolled in a hospice program, all aspects of the client’s care becomes the responsibility of the agency.
  • The Medicare program offers an all-inclusive hospice care benefit to enrollees. Most private insurances and managed care plans also offer hospice benefits but the criteria for eligibility varies and should be determined in advance. Physician referral to hospice is necessary.
  • Hospice is available to those who have a diagnosis of cancer and many other chronic terminal illnesses including lung disease, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, dementia, HIV/AIDS, and other conditions.

New Hampshire Foundations for Healthy Communities

The Foundation for Healthy Communities is part of the NH Healthcare Decisions Coalition, originally established in 1998 as the NH Partnership for End-of-Life Care. The coalition is a volunteer inter-disciplinary group from organizations across the state committed to sharing information on issues related to people with life-threatening serious illness.  At their site, you will find information to help you complete an Advance Directive (Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare) based on requirements under New Hampshire law, as well as downloadable forms, a guide to end-of-life discussions, and explanations about Portable Do Not Resuscitate (P-DNR) medical orders and Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

 Use the Find a Home Care Agency search function on the right side of this page for information on the agencies that deliver hospice care in New Hampshire’s communities.