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What is a Hospice?

The word “hospice” comes from the Latin word “hospes” which means to host a guest or stranger.

In the 11th century, people with incurable diseases were allowed to stay in special hospitals for Crusaders.  Throughout the Middle Ages, religious orders operated hospices for dying patients. 

Great Britain led the way for the modern hospice movement in the 1800s.  Several Hospices were opened in London with an emphasis on improving sanitary conditions. 

The Sisters of Charity opened a hospice in Ireland that took care of dying patients for 100 years. The Sisters of Charity eventually expanded to London, Australia and Wales, paving the way for modern hospice. 

The inspiration for the modern hospice movement came from Dame Cicely Saunders, who as a student of nursing in her native England during World War II, witnessed a great deal of suffering and pain.  She came to believe that three things were most important in easing life’s final journey. 

People needed strong relief from physical pain and troublesome symptoms, they needed to preserve their dignity and they needed help with the psychosocial and spiritual pain of death.

Today, ‘hospice’ is no longer a place but rather an ideal and philosophy of care for the patient with a life limiting illness and their loved ones facing a difficult journey. The purpose remains  the same—for them to find  rest, to be cared for and to gather courage to face the remaining days o of their journey together.




Read 5913 times Last modified on Friday, 02 November 2012 09:41
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