A Comprehensive Guide to Holistic Hospice Care

Updated on August 14, 2023
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Death is an inevitable shared human experience, and hospice care serves as a testament to this inevitability, marking the ultimate stage of a patient’s journey. It neither hastens nor postpones the inevitable.

Hospice care is for people in the last stages of their terminal disease with less than six months to live. It focuses on treating the patient’s symptoms rather than curing the condition, allowing them to enjoy their last days in peace. This article discusses ways of providing holistic hospice care to a patient:

The Heart of Holistic Hospice Care 

There is much more to hospice care than just treating the symptoms. It has a multidimensional nature that caters to a person’s physical, mental, and spiritual needs. 

Physical Comfort 

Hospice patients spend most of their time in bed in a room with a clinical setting. Under these circumstances optimizing their surroundings to provide maximum comfort is necessary under hospice care. A few thoughtful modifications, such as pictures and souvenirs from their personal life, can transform the area into a peaceful place. 

Different colors are associated with different emotions. Soothing colors like blue and green help regulate emotions and provide a sense of calmness. Soft and adjustable lighting should be used so the patient can adjust it according to their needs during different times of the day.

Cleanliness is also equally essential. Not only does it keep germs away, but it also helps the patient uphold his dignity. As in vulnerable times, it serves as a gesture of acknowledging the patient’s worth. 

Pain Management

Pain management is one of the most fundamental and challenging goals of hospice care. Pain in hospice patients is usually persistent and diverse, requiring a personalized approach. Providing effective medication while minimizing the side effects is the key to successful pain management. However, it is easier said than done.

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Emotional and Psychological Support

Addressing complex emotions and providing emotional support to patients is fundamental to hospice care. Hospice patients suffer from feelings like fear, anxiety, shock, and guilt. To truly make their last days relaxing, it is essential to help them work through these problems and instead focus on positivity. 

There are a number of ways to relieve these emotions. Simply understanding and listening to the patient can help mitigate negative emotions. The most important thing is to just stay by the patient’s side. Even when words fall short, caregivers can still share moments of solitude. Simple gestures like a caring touch or a reassuring smile have a profound effect. 

Therapy is also an excellent way to reduce negative feelings. Counselors offer constructive solutions through various interventions that help patients to process and manage their emotions. Patients can also join support groups, where communicating with people with similar experiences can help share their pain and ease their minds. 

Spiritual Well-Being

The concept of spirituality differs for every person. For some people, spirituality entails being part of a religion, while for others, it can simply be a unique philosophical belief. Nonetheless, spiritual well-being is an essential component of hospice care. Spirituality helps people make sense of their situation. When all else fails, people naturally turn towards something greater than themselves. 

It provides them with a deeper meaning and purpose. The connection to a higher power or the belief in an afterlife also helps alleviate fears. Some hospice programs even offer spiritual counselors and spaces dedicated to such purposes.  

Integrating Complementary Therapies

Besides the approaches mentioned above, hospice care also includes complementary therapies that further help patients to relax. They enhance the patient’s overall well-being by complementing conventional hospice treatments. Following are some well-known and effective complementary therapies:

Music Therapy

Music is a scientifically proven way to help people relax. Music affects the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls our emotions. It is also associated with the release of certain hormones that bring about physiological change. It decreases stress and helps patients to divert their attention from unpleasant symptoms. Music helps to reduce agitated behavior and has a therapeutic effect on patients. Higher upbeat tempos increase feelings of positivity, and lower tempos help relax and relieve stress. 

Art Therapy

People have used art for communication, comfort, and self-expression for thousands of years. Sometimes words aren’t enough. Art therapy fills in this gap by enabling patients to express themselves. Engaging in such activities enables the patients to focus on the present and provides a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Professional guidance and tailored exercises can be sought for art therapies, but they are equally effective even without professional guidance.


In this ancient approach, scents and essential oils are obtained from natural sources for healing purposes. Aromatherapy has both physical and psychological benefits. The natural extracts used in aromatherapy are either inhaled or applied on the skin. The aromatic compounds work by affecting the limbic system when inhaled and get absorbed in the skin when applied directly. They have the potential to alleviate stress, pain, sleeplessness, and digestion.

Personalizing Care Plans

Personalized plans are essential in order to provide meaningful support because each patient has unique circumstances. A treatment plan should address the patient’s needs- health, personal matters, family, social life, emotional well-being, education, finances, psychology, and cultural background. 

Open communication plays a key role in this regard. The hospice treatment’s goals, desires, and expectations should be clearly and timely communicated to the healthcare providers. Afterward, the healthcare provider should thoroughly assess the patient’s condition and devise a personalized treatment plan. And the plan should be continually evaluated and improved according to the patient’s needs.

Collaborative Care 

And last but not least comes the collaborative care approach. Providing a holistic hospice experience requires a combined effort from family members, physicians, therapists, and nurses. Each member has a specific and vital role to play. 

Physicians make all the medical decisions. Family members provide support and comfort, therapists help manage complex emotions, and nurses monitor and care for the patient. This unity fosters a comprehensive support mechanism.


Remember that the purpose of a hospice is to help the patient live entirely within the numbered days. A holistic approach to hospice care ensures the patient’s well-being by addressing all the essential aspects during a critical phase of their life. The key to unlocking a holistic hospice experience lies in understanding and addressing the unique needs that vary for every patient and seamlessly integrating the discussed elements into hospice care.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.