Hospice care is the medical care, emotional support, and spiritual resources given to those who are in the last stages of a terminal illness. Many hospice care patients are battling cancer, heart failure, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, or other organ failures. The aim of those working in hospice care is to improve the final stages of life for their patients and keep them as alert and comfortable as possible.
Hospice care can take place at home, in long-term care facilities, nursing homes or in hospitals. Most hospice patients are over the age of 65 and in their last six months of life. Many are unable to eat, bathe, or cloth themselves, and need constant supervision and care.
Hospice workers are on-call 24/7 and develop a personalized care plan that works for the patient and his or her family. Hospice workers must be responsible, compassionate, patient, caring, emotionally stable, and friendly. They also need to be tactful, honest and discreet in their services. Above all, they must have a desire to help people and make the final phase of life as comfortable as possible.
There are a number of excellent resources out there that will make your search for information about working in hospice care a lot easier. Below are 35 websites, organizations, associations, job boards, blogs, and additional reading to help guide you through the world of hospice and homecare.
- Web MD, an excellent site for more information on hospice care, explains how hospice care centers around basic medical care and equipment with a focus on pain and symptom control as well as counseling, guidance, and social support.
- The Mayo Clinic also provides an extensive explanation of the duties and goals of hospice care for anyone considering this profession.
- The American Cancer Society is another good place for aspiring hospice workers to go for advice, with an explanation of the goals of hospice care including managing bereavement, family conferences, and spiritual care.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides career information for anyone considering entering the field of hospice or home care. Here you can find salary expectations, training and certification advice, work outlook, and a detailed list of job duties.
- The Hospice Foundation of America has a valuable collection of PDF guides for caregivers including the Caregiver’s Handbook, and a section on grieving and death.
- Nurses Source is another excellent resource for general information on the daily tasks involved in hospice care.
- The Hospice Association of America has published a PDF on Hospice Facts and Statistics that any caregiver looking into hospice should read through. The document outlines the financial aspects of hospice and gives a detailed survey of hospice patients and providers.
- The Best Medical Alert Systems Reviews is a website that reviews medical alert systems for seniors, children, and other persons in need of caregiving.
Caregivers interested in moving into hospice care can benefit greatly from joining a hospice association. Although there is usually an annual fee attached to a membership, you will be rewarded with home care news, career resources, discounts to conferences and networking connections. Furthermore, membership to these associations can boost your career credentials.
- American Association for Homecare is Washington State’s homecare association. Every state has its own association for Homecare, which is worthy of membership. You will be connected to relevant regional news on home care and hospice in your area. Find your state’s homecare association through the NAHC.
- Alive Hospice Organization is another excellent website to check regularly. If you have the time, you could also look into donating to or volunteering on one of their many missions. Alive Hospice is dedicated to offering emotional support and compassion to help patients and their loved ones on life’s last journey.
- Home Healthcare Nurses Association – HHNA is a membership association within NAHC committed to fostering excellence in the practice of home health care nursing. The HHNA aims both to develop the specialty of home healthcare nursing, and to influence public policy as it affects home health care nursing practice.
- Hospice Association of America – HAA is devoted to promoting hospice as the primary method of caring for the terminally ill. It is a national organization representing thousands of hospices, caregivers, and volunteers who serve terminally ill patients and their families.
- Hospital Home Care Association of America – HHCAA was established to address the unique relationship between hospitals and home care providers. It is a part of the NAHC that is involved in surveys and data collection for those in the home care industry.
- National Association for Homecare and Hospice – The NAHC is a great place to go for all the latest news and events pertaining to homecare and hospice nursing. Although individual home care providers cannot apply for membership, you can benefit from the articles and news on all aspects of home care including government funding, legal services, legislative issues, and educational opportunities.
- Private Duty Homecare Association of America – The Private Duty Homecare Association (PDHCA) is a trade association of home care providers dedicated to helping the ill and disabled remain in their own homes.
- The Caring Institute – The Caring Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 to honor and promote the values of caring, integrity, and public service. Members can benefit from discounts to the bookstore as well as invitations to various events.
- World Homecare and Hospice Organization – WHHO, a diverse worldwide association of providers involved in delivering healthcare, hospice care, and social services, raises global awareness about the quality associated with client-centered home care and hospice services.
Once you have obtained your education and passed the certification exam, it’s time to hit the streets and put your skills to work in the hospice industry. Check out these resourceful online job boards and annual conferences for easy access into the industry and all the latest news:
- Home Care Careers – Sponsored by the National Association of Homecare and Hospice, Home Care Careers lets you browse jobs by location, section, or employer.
- Health Career Web is a great place to network with other health care professionals. This site features job postings from all different healthcare industries including homecare and hospice. Simply type in your ‘hospice’ keyword and you can access openings across the country.
- Health Care Jobs is an organization that connects experienced professionals to careers in the healthcare industry. Health Care Jobs also features several valuable work-related resources including featured books, resume advice, and specific jobs in the government sector.
- Hospice Choices is an excellent place to find careers in the home care industry. Search for jobs by region or educational qualifications, post your resume and browse through industry-related articles.
- The American Association for Homecare also sponsors an excellent job board where you can create an account, register for job alerts, and connect with employers looking for professional home care workers.
- NAHC 29 th Annual Meeting and Exposition – A four-day event held October 2-6, 2010 in Dallas, TX. The theme for this year is “ Home Care & Hospice: Pioneers in the New Health Care Frontier” and will focus on the opportunities for home care and hospice to reshape the healthcare system as it prepares to receive the 78-million-strong baby boom generation.
- Another excellent annual conference is the 2010 National Caregivers Conference, sponsored by The Family Support Network. This year’s conference will be held on October 26, 2010 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
Looking for a more colloquial view of life in the trenches as a home care worker? Below are some of the best blogs on the web that provide real-life examples of working in hospice care.
- Alive Hospice Blog – Brought to you by Alive Hospice, this informative and well-organized blog is written by a number of industry professionals and touches on pressing issues within the field of hospice care including spiritual support, and dealing with grief and loss.
- Caregiver List – This blog has resume writing tips and training tools to help you hunt for a home care position. Subscribe to RSS feeds for constant updates on various home care matters.
- Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog – This is an excellent place to check in regularly for news on hospice practices, research, and other issues.
- Inside Elder Care – Want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about caring for the elderly in hospice care? This blog delves deep into the world of one person who is caring for his aging mother.
- Lasting Tribute – Not only does this blog feature a number of stories from caregivers but it also allows you to leave stories and messages about anyone in your care who has died. For those who have lost a patient, this can be a great way to reflect on his or her life and your work as a caregiver.
- Risa’s Pieces – This is a great little blog about what it’s like to be a hospice caregiver from a very compassionate professional.
For more information on home care and hospice, check out the following websites, digital magazines and resource guides:
- The Caregivers Home Companion is a home care gold mine for resources with weekly columns on Practical, Professional, Spousal, and Spiritual caregiving as well as forums, hotlines, and an ‘ask an expert’ section.
- The Caring Store, sponsored by the NAHC, is a great place to purchase the most up-to-date and relevant books, magazines, and other publications about home care and hospice work.
- Today’s Caregiver Magazine comes in both an online and print format. You can subscribe through the website where you will also be directed to a number of ‘channels’ on different terminal illnesses, book clubs, forums, and newsletters.
- The Hospice Information Center is sponsored by the Hospice Foundation and provides an extensive collection of hospice and home care information. You can listen to the voices of hospice providers and patients, educate yourself and others through videos and publications, and read and share a number of resources.
Working in hospice and home care is an extremely challenging and emotionally exhausting career choice, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have. For those who are dedicated, compassionate, and emotionally equipped to work in this environment, the above resources can help you find your path and make your mark in this ever-growing industry.