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The hospice concept of care represents a continually growing trend in world health practices. In 1973, there was one hospice in the United States; by 2000 there were nearly 3000 hospices caring for over 400,000 patients annually, and the numbers continue to grow.

As an integral part of the hospice team, the volunteer is crucial to the quality of care any hospice can offer. Volunteers must be caring and emotionally mature individuals who are comfortable with the issues of death and dying and are committed to their work. Volunteers gain tremendous satisfaction from making a difference in the lives of others and continually report personal rewards, individual growth and increased self-knowledge from their experiences in hospice.


Hospice is a philosophy of care that recognizes death as a natural part of life and seeks neither to prolong nor hasten the dying process. Hospice is a special kind of care for dying people, their families and their caregivers that addresses psychosocial, emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

Hospice focuses on care in the home or in a home-like setting, concentrating on keeping patients comfortable and free of pain so that they can make the most of the time that remains to them. The Hospice Team considers helping family members an essential part of its mission and believes the quality of life to be as important as the length of life.


Members of the Hospice Team work together to care for the patient and to sustain the care giving unit. The team may include a medical director, nurses, home-health aides, volunteers, social workers, a chaplain, a volunteer coordinator, a nutritionist, a pharmacist and an art therapist.