The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.
Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end of life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach of expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient's wishes. Emotional and spiritual support also is extended to the family and loved ones. Generally, this care is provided in the patient's home or in a home-like setting operated by a hospice program. Medicare, private health insurance, and Medicaid in most states cover hospice care for patients who meet certain criteria.
In recent years, many hospice care programs added palliative care to their names to reflect the range of care and services they provide, as hospice care and palliative care share the same core values and philosophies. Defined by the World Health Organization in 1990, palliative care seeks to address not only physical pain, but also emotional, social, and spiritual pain to achieve the best possible quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care extends the principles of hospice care to a broader population that could benefit from receiving this type of care earlier in their illness or disease process. To better serve individuals who have advanced illness or are terminally ill and their families, many hospice programs encourage access to care earlier in the illness or disease process. Health care professionals who specialize in hospice and palliative care work closely with staff and volunteers to address all the symptoms of illness, with the aim of promoting comfort and dignity.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, founded in 1978 as the National Hospice Organization, changed its name in February 2000. With headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, the organization advocates for the terminally ill and their families. It also develops public and professional educational programs and materials to enhance understanding and availability of hospice and palliative care; convenes frequent meetings and symposia on emerging issues; provides technical informational resources to its membership; conducts research; monitors Congressional and regulatory activities; and works closely with other organizations that share an interest in end of life care.http://www.nhpco.org/templates/1/homepage.cfm