Talking about end of life can be hard for patients and their loved ones. This guide provides information for both patients and caregivers about what to expect when someone is nearing the end of life, hospice care and advance care planning. Making health care decisions in advance and sharing them with family, caregivers, and healthcare providers helps ensure that the patient's wishes are understood. We hope that this information will help prepare you for the future and guide you to the support and care you may need.
See the Managing Side Effects: Palliative Care InfoGuide for more information and resources.
Hospice is a special type of care in which medical, psychological, and spiritual support are provided to patients and their loved ones when cancer therapies are no longer controlling the disease. Hospice care focuses on controlling pain and other symptoms of illness so patients can remain as comfortable as possible near the end of life. Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. If the patient’s condition improves or the cancer goes into remission, hospice care can be discontinued and active treatment may resume. Choosing hospice care doesn’t mean giving up. It just means that the goal of treatment has changed.
Hospice services may include doctor or nursing care, medical supplies and equipment, home health aide services, short-term respite (relief) services for caregivers, drugs to help manage cancer-related symptoms, spiritual support and counseling, and social work services. Patients’ families are also an important focus of hospice care, and services are designed to give them assistance and support. Hospice care most often takes place at home. However, hospice care can also be delivered in special in-patient facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Cancer can involve significant psychological, social, and economic challenges for patients and their families. How and if these challenges are addressed is an important aspect of a patient’s care plan. The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center employs clinical social workers who provide emotional and practical support for patients, their families, and their friends. Oncology Social Workers can provide advocacy and referrals as well as individual and family counseling services.
Services are available at no cost and are available to anyone in our community, regardless of where they are receiving medical care.
For more information, call (805) 879-5690.
The End of Life Option Act is a California law that permits terminally ill adult patients with the capacity to make medical decisions to be prescribed an aid-in-dying medication if certain conditions are met. Signed into law by Governor Brown in October 2015, the law went into effect on June 9, 2016. The resource provided here is for informational purposes only. We strongly encourage you to talk with your healthcare team if you have any questions or would like more information.