Hospice care is typically provided to patients with a terminal illness or chronic pain to enable them to lead as comfortable as a life as possible. Generally, the focus of hospice care is to treat and manage the symptoms of a health problem when a cure is not available. A hospice can be a group home or nursing facility that provides around the clock care and management for live-in patients. It can also be a nursing service that visits patients at their own homes to help them and their family members with medical care. Hospice certification is available to different types of licensed health care providers upon completion of an exam administered by regional hospice professional organizations.
Care in a hospice generally differs from a traditional hospital environment in several key ways. Hospitals aim to diagnose and cure illness, while a hospice patient already knows what is wrong and is seeking comfort from pain and suffering. Hospices focus on palliative care for people experiencing terminal illness and long-term pain. A hospice can help patients with end of life care, and with care that administered over many years when an illness or disease is known to be terminal.
Within a hospice, there are generally many different health care professionals including doctors and nurses. Other types of employees include nursing assistants and administrative employees. Regional professional programs offer training and certification to many different types of hospice employees. The hospice certification program generally differs based on the type of employee seeking training.
Though they ultimately differ in individual requirements, most types of hospice certification require the individual to have obtained a certain number of hours working in some type of hospice or palliative care environment. Typically, individuals also need to be fully licensed as a doctor, nurse, or assistant depending upon their chosen specialty. Once the number of required hours have been completed, the process generally requires passing an exam and a board review process.
As hospice certification is typically a professional standard and not necessarily a regional regulation, it can be possible to find entry-level work in a hospice before receiving accreditation. Since hospice certification generally requires experience, this is often a necessary step of the hospice employment process. Nurses can generally work in a hospice or for a hospice care company as long as they are regionally licensed, with the same standard applying to doctors as well. Certified nursing assistants can also find jobs assisting patients in a hospice.