Hospice Nursing
The origins of hospice [1] can be traced back to the early 11th century A.D., describing a specific kind of lodging for traveling pilgrims. The term itself, hospes, meant hosts, as in hospitality. In the year 1095, Pope Urban ll called for the first holy crusade, resulting in thousands of European warriors and pilgrims heading to the holy land. The early hospes were actually lodging houses built to accommodate these weary travelers. As the journey to the holy land was dangerous, the focus within the hospes lodges quickly turned to caring for the sick and dying. The goal of this care was to comfort the ill until their death or recovery. The concept of (modern day) hospice was born during these difficult times.In the 1950’s, a physician named Cicely Saunders changed the way we think about the terminally ill. Speaking from her first-hand patient care experiences, she exposed the inadequacies of a hospice setting as a form of end-of-life care. She held a strong belief that physicians, rather than the currently used volunteers and nuns, should be the ones to treat hospice patients. She was also instrumental in championing the notion that opioids should be used for pain management in a hospice setting, using such drugs to improve the quality of life for these patients. Currently, an estimated one third of Americans who are terminally ill are in hospice – a figure that is growing each year.Hospice has been credited with saving Medicare money. Approximately one third of Medicare costs are spent on end-of-life services. Hospice services significantly reduce those costs by eliminating needless, often costly treatments, and limiting the repetitive misuse of the emergency room visits. In addition, a hospice program offers a more holistic approach to care, offering an array of services, including pain management, grief counseling, patient and family services; these services are not traditionally offered at primary care offices nor emergency department visits.

Course Publication Date: February 17, 2022

This course is available with NO ADDITIONAL FEE if you have an active one year unlimited membership!

Author:Maureen Sullivan-Tevault RN, BSN, CEN, CDCES
Course No:HOSPICE-0222
Contact Hours:3.00
Delivery Method:Online Self Study
Category:Community & Home Health
Geriatric Medicine
Leadership & Case Management
Learning Objectives
  • Discuss the need for hospice care in the United States (as it relates to the cost of medical care at end of life).

  • Describe services available through the Medicare hospice program benefit

  • Discuss differences palliative care versus hospice care

  • Verbalize understanding of the roles/responsibilities of hospice care team members

  • Discuss the importance of living wills, durable powers of attorney (health care proxy)

  • Discuss various pain management protocols available under hospice care

  • Describe various spiritual, psychological and family issues that may occur in hospice care

  • Identify signs and symptoms of an “actively dying” hospice patient

  • Discuss self-care practices for hospice providers at risk for compassion fatigue/ moral distress


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