Hospice-care or frequently known as ‘palliative care’ is the provision of symptomatic treatment to those who have reached a terminal stage of a disease. It can be provided in a hospital, clinic or even at home. During the second half of the twentieth century, several new technologies had been developed in the field of hospice care to help people with terminal illnesses to die without much suffering. Professor Patrick Wall was one of the main doctors who helped to improve the art and science of hospice care.
The term ‘total pain’ was coined in the year 1964, and was mainly utilized to suggest not only physical suffering, but also mental distress, social problems and spiritual concerns. As a response to total pain, hospice care was developed to help the patient’s relief their physical, mental, spiritual and social sufferings. Medical professionals, nurses, social and religious workers, etc, were involved in the process. Initially, the medical and nursing fraternity did not know how to handle people suffering from terminal illness.
To identify their needs many hospitals and organizations conducted surveys. A report published by a UK nursing research organization in 1952, demonstrated the needs of cancer patients who died in their homes. In 1960, the Gulbenkian Foundation conducted extensive research in about 300 homes meant for the dying and interviewed more than 600 doctors. It was found that such homes did not have enough money and staff to handle the number of patients suffering from terminal illnesses.
In 1963, Hilton found that most of the sufferings of the elderly patients suffering from cancers and other terminal illness was not relieved (Saunders, 2001). Over the decades after the World War 2, a lot of research and development have occurred in the field of hospice and palliative care. Nowadays, hospice has included other aspects including spiritual and social welfare, along with holistic care. During the period between 1965 and 2005, there have been significant developments in the field of palliative medicine such that it has emerged as a separate branch of medicine.
Some of the aspects of hospice care that have been developed include: – ? Providing holistic treatment that includes spiritual and social care ? Customized patient care including appropriate management of symptoms ? Several healthcare professionals working from several specializations towards helping the patient out improve the quality of life ? Use of effective medications in order to control pain ? Improving the quality of life (Meghani, 2004)