Coping with Terminal Cancer Sometimes, cancer cannot be cured. When that is the case, patients and families are faced with complex emotions and a variety of end of life issues. Supportive (Palliative) Care for People with Cancer Palliative care can be provided in the hospital, at home, or in a setting specializing in such care. The duration may be long-term over several years, or short-term, lasting days or weeks. Palliative care may include chemotherapy or radiation for pain control. Hospice Care Overview Hospice care usually involves relieving symptoms and providing psychological and social support for the patient and family. The goal of hospice care is to provide the terminally ill patient peace, comfort, and dignity. Hospice Care Statistics Less than half of hospice recipients are cancer patients. The five leading non-cancer conditions admitted to hospice are end-stage heart disease, dementia, feebleness, lung disease, and end-stage renal disease. Types of Hospice Care Services The goal of hospice is to provide comfort and care, not "cure" the illness or disease. Types of hospice care services provided depend on the patient's needs and preferences. Hospice or Palliative Care: Management Hospice is made up of a team of caregivers who specialize in end-of-life care. This team usually includes doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, or trained volunteers. Usually a family member or close friend is chosen as the main caregiver. The main caregiver helps the patient make important decisions. Hospices Offer Comfort at Life's End As medical progress prolongs our lives, the end can linger. So, more and more people are turning to hospice care. Hospice and Palliative Care: Planning When people begin to think about their own or their loved one's death, many spiritual and ethical issues arise. This is can be a hard topic for the family and caregivers to talk about. They should listen to the patient and help him or her sort through these issues. Hospice and Palliative Care: Signs and Symptoms of Approaching Death Although we can never predict exactly when a terminally ill person will die, we know when the time is getting close by a combination of signs and symptoms. Not all of these signs will appear at the same time, and some may never appear at all. Planning for End of Life You need to understand your options and take time to consider what will help you reach the end of your life with dignity, comfort and a sense of control. Types of Home Health and Hospice Care Providers Home health and hospice care can be provided by many different types of organizations, agencies, companies, and individuals. Choosing the service that is right for your family requires some research. Choosing a Provider When looking for a home health and hospice care provider, consider quality of care, availability of services, personnel training and expertise, and payer coverage. Important Decisions to Be Made in the Dying Process Many families want their loved ones to die at home in their natural and most comfortable setting. Others do not feel they can emotionally handle the death in their home. Include all family members in this important decision. Compassionate Drug Use Compassionate drug use describes the use of investigational drugs by seriously ill people not enrolled in clinical trials. Paying for Home Health and Hospice Care Home health care services may be paid for directly by the patient, through insurance coverage, or through other public or private sources. Most hospice care programs are provided to the patient regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Patient Rights If you are unhappy with the home health or hospice care you are receiving, you should notify the provider's administrator, your state health department, and the Better Business Bureau.