Hospice is a philosophy of providing care that includes palliative care services for patients and families during the last six months of an illness. Some of the benefits provided are adequate pain and symptom management, nursing and personal care, bereavement support, respite for caregivers and spiritual support. While we have seen a marked growth in the number of hospice companies since the 1970’s, they still care for only a minority of dying patients. Although the numbers of patients who die while being cared for by a hospice has been rising slowly, patients generally do not spend enough time in these programs to experience all of the potential benefits. The patient’s admission to hospice care is commonly made late in the dying processmost often in the last week of life. There are currently about 80 hospice providers in the state of Oklahoma.
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