The Hospice Team

  • An interdisciplinary team will help to create a plan to meet your loved one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, as well as those of you and your family.
  • Be sure that you understand the role of your loved one’s primary doctor after hospice care begins. In most cases, this physician can continue to provide medical care.
  • The hospice team may provide grief support to surviving loved ones and friends including counseling, making phone calls to loved ones, companionship, and skills training.

Next Step

Explore ways to pay for hospice, including the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

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Hospice is a family-centered approach that includes, at minimum, a team of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, counselors, and trained volunteers. Team members work together to meet the dying person’s needs whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual. The hospice team develops a care plan that meets each person's needs for pain management and symptom control.

A typical hospice team consists of:

  • Home health aide(s)
  • Nurse(s)
  • Hospice physician (or medical director)
  • Personal physician may also be included
  • Social worker(s)
  • Trained volunteer(s)
  • Clergy or other counselor(s)
  • Speech, physical, and occupational therapist(s) (if needed)

24-Hour Support

Hospice care is available around the clock. Most hospices have a nurse on call at all times; some also have on-call chaplains and social workers.

It’s important to understand the role your loved one’s primary doctor will play during hospice care. Most often, a person can choose to have their personal doctor remain involved in the medical care. This physician and the hospice medical director may work together to coordinate medical care, especially when symptoms are difficult to manage. The hospice medical director can answer questions you or your loved one have about hospice medical care.

Hospice also recognizes the need to involve and support the family members and other loved ones who are often the person’s primary caregivers. As a relationship with the hospice begins, hospice staff may want to learn from these caregivers how best to support the dying person.

To meet its responsibilities, the hospice team:

  • Manages the person’s pain and symptoms
  • Provides emotional support
  • Provides needed medications, medical supplies, and equipment
  • Coaches loved ones on how to care for the person
  • Delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed
  • Provides short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite
  • Provides grief support to surviving loved ones and friends

Support can include conversations with the person and family members, teaching caregiving skills, telephone calls to loved ones, including family members who live at a distance and companionship and other help from volunteers.

Counseling or grief support for the family is an important part of hospice care. After the person's death, bereavement support is offered to families for at least a year. These services may take a variety of forms, including telephone calls, visits, written materials about grieving, and support groups. Individual counseling may be offered by the hospice, or the hospice may make a referral to a community resource.

Next Step: Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans. Learn more about the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

Content shown was developed through a collaboration between AGIS and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.