Misconceptions & Reality

  • Hospice is a place
    • REALITY: The word “hospice” is a medieval name for a way station for pilgrims and travelers. It is used because it signifies that the doors are open to the traveler from one life to the next. It also emphasizes that spiritual and emotional care is as important as physical and medical care.
  • VHOCC will accept non-terminal patients.
    • REALITY: Following physician referral, admissions are made based upon diagnosis and nursing assessment of the patient’s need for hospice or terminal care.
  • Hospice shortens life/suffering via drugs.
    • REALITY: The Hospice goal is to enhance remaining days by various means, including pain management. This does not shorten life.
  • Once a patient is in hospice, they cannot be discharged.
    • REALITY: Sometimes patients experience remarkable improvement in their condition and are no longer “terminal.” They may be discharged and re-admitted when their condition changes.
  •  Only older people are eligible for hospice.
    • REALITY: While the majority of patients are older, patients of all ages, including children, are welcome to use VHOCC services.
  •  You must have a religious affiliation.
    • REALITY: No such affiliation is required. VHOCC welcomes anyone regardless of their beliefs.
  •  You can borrow anything from VHOCC and they deliver.
    • REALITY: While VHOCC has a large store of durable medical equipment, some specialty items are reserved for patients and are delivered to them.
  •  If you volunteer with VHOCC, you work with patients.
    • REALITY: There are many different volunteer opportunities including reception; office management; equipment management, delivery and pick-up; newsletter mailing; donor recognition; public speaking; participation on board committees; grief counseling and more.
  •  Patients must have a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order to use VHOCC. 
    • REALITY: While many patients, in consultation with their physician, choose the DNR order, this is not required.
  •  Hospice means hopeless. 
    • REALITY: The hospice philosophy emphasizes the creative and positive outcomes realized by defining and achieving personal goals and by living as fully as possible. Death is inevitable and dying well takes work. Often the patient and family experience an improved sense of well being and comfort. This may happen because of improved pain and other symptom management, as well as the emotional and spiritual support of the VHOCC nurses and volunteers.
  •  Hospice care ends when the patient dies. 
    • REALITY: Volunteer hospice provides individual and group counseling to the bereaved, both before and after death. VHOCC has an extensive lending library of material available to families. These services are available whether or not the deceased used VHOCC services. VHOCC coordinates with other community support services and refers when appropriate.
  •  Volunteer Hospice participates in the Washington State “Death With Dignity” law. 
    • REALITY: If a VHOCC patient chooses this option, the Volunteer Hospice nurse will not attend the death but will arrive afterwards to support the family and attend to necessary details at that time.
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