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Hospice…Palliative… what do those words even mean?

As our first topic, I thought it would be nice to start with the basics, or maybe not so basic after all. Most people have no idea what hospice and palliative mean.  I’m going to break it down for you.

Hospice-comes for the word “hospitality.”  The use is dated back to medieval times. “Come stay at my house and I’ll take care of you” philosophy for ill-travelers.  Hospice care officially originated in Europe. Now, hospice care has spread and can be anywhere a patient calls home. What does the word mean now?  It means that you or a loved one are no longer seeking active treated to cure and treatment is for the things we can control.  I get calls every day with specific questions about what a patient can do and what can they not do.  The bottom line is that if treatments were given, will this disease go away?  Can I receive breathing treatments?  Yes.  Can I receive radiation?  Yes. Can I go to the eye doctor or dentist?  Yes, and yes! Hospice is free and everyone who meets eligibility can receive care, insured, uninsured, young and mature.  Does your doctor have to recommend hospice?  No, they don’t.  Matter of fact, most doctors are afraid of the word hospice like many of us.  It is taboo.  “If I say hospice then it may make someone die sooner.”  WRONG.  Hospice patients live longer.  WHY?  Because we are treating things we can help with and there is support like when doctors made house calls.  Hospice is a great thing. 

What does hospice include?  A complete medical team to include Medical Director/MD, Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, Patient and Family Support, Medical Social Worker and lots of other services, pet therapy, aromatherapy, volunteers, etc.

Medications, Supplies (briefs, underpads, etc) and Medical Equipment (beds, etc) are all included and all FREE.

Palliative-(pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv)- is another word with some medieval flare.  It comes from “palliare” meaning “to cloak.” What does it mean now?  Palliative Care helps reduce symptoms and stress while improving quality of life.  The team works with your doctor while you are seeking curative treatment.  What the point?  What happens if you have pain at 2 am?  You call the palliative care team for support at 2 am.  They can come to your home or wherever you are to help manage the symptoms.  This is added support so you can sleep easy and use the energy you have for the things you want to do.  I doubt sitting in the Emergency Room is on that list.

What does palliative care include?  A medical director, nurse, patient and family support, and medical social worker.  Care is provided in conjunction with your doctor.

Who can use Hospice or Palliative Care? Anyone suffering from symptoms and stress from illnesses such as:

  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Heart failure
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Kidney Disease
  • Cancer
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • AIDS
  • And tons of others


Our goals at Friends of Caroline is to be sure that our community has the support that it needs.  Often, care is overlooked because of the stigmas associated with hospice and palliative care or the unknown.  We want to help our community overcome those barriers.  After all, we will all need care at some point during this journey, isn’t it nice to know its available?


If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to email or call.  We are here!


Until Next Time,


Lindsay Roberg RN, BSN, CHPN, CHPCA

Executive Director

Friends of Caroline