The word “hospice” sounds a lot like hospital, so maybe that's why so many people think of these two different types of services as synonymous. Although both types of services take care of the sick, they operate on two very different concessions. A hospital provides medical care. A hospitality, on the other hand, focuses on the whole patient and his or her needs. A hospitality offers a more comfortable lifestyle to those who are suffering from extreme pain and who know they will soon die. The concept has become extremely popular as hospitality caregivers not only work to give the patients physical comfort, but also brings mental and emotional support.

Much more than a building where health care is offered, hospice is a philosophy that provides the highest quality of life possible for a person's final days on earth. Instead of spending their time in a sterile environment under the care of efficient and distant healthcare professionals, those under hospice care work with caring, compassionate staff members who help them manage the pain and mental anguish they are going through. Do not get the wrong impression, though. Hospice is not just an anteroom for those awaiting death. It's a more comfortable and quality way of life for those who know the end is approaching.

Care within a hospitice is ensured by a team of experts who know how to provide for a patient's individual needs. It may include the patient's own physician, registered nurses, religious counselors, pharmacists, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians, and volunteers who perform dozens of helpful services for patients. In addition, the team will include bereavement counselors to offer support to family members when the patient passes away. It is designed to meet every needs of anyone who is dealing with imminent death, be it the patient or those close to him or her.

Patients are eligible for hospice care at a time when their doctors have told them they have six months, more or less, yet to live. A large percentage of those admitted to the program are coping with the last stages of terminal cancer, but it can also be other fatal diseases which bring them there. Although there is a charge for services used, the costs are minimal compared to extended hospital stays or nursing facility care. In addition, family members and friends are given the support they need to provide a great deal of the care themselves which also lowers the cost. The costs may also be covered by Medicare and other insurance plans.