Departments within hospitals, HMOs and other health care institutions that provide for the spiritual care of patients with severe, chronic or terminal conditions, their families and staff, regardless of their religious traditions. Pastoral care workers work cooperatively with the health care team; listen, elicit and respond to individual religious/spiritual needs; identify and clarify ethical issues related to end-of-life treatment and care; provide bereavement support for family members, significant others and professional staff; and ensure that treatment addresses the whole person, not just his or her medical needs. The service is provided by licensed clergy or trained, accredited spiritual care volunteers.
Programs that provide for the comprehensive management of the physical, psychological, social, spiritual and existential needs of patients with the objective of helping them achieve the best possible quality of life through relief of suffering, control of symptoms and restoration of functional capacity while remaining sensitive to personal, cultural and religious values, beliefs and practices. The focus of palliative care is on people with incurable, progressive illnesses who are in the early stages of their illness. Palliative care may be provided in a wide variety of health care settings including hospitals, nursing facilities, hospice facilities and the person's own home; and may be coordinated with other services including curative therapies.
Programs that provide emotional support, information and guidance for individuals and families who are dealing with the reality of impending death and the stress; the intense feelings of depression, anger, anxiety, fear, guilt and grief; and the resultant strain on family and friendship relationships that arise when an individual is in the terminal stages of an illness.
Organizations whose members are home health, hospice and personal care agencies that have affiliated for the purpose of promoting mutual interests, increasing the visibility of home care services, disseminating information to members and the general public and improving the quality, accessibility and affordability of in-home and end of life care. Home health and hospice associations may provide opportunities for personal and professional development through conferences, publications and other activities; advocate for the rights of patients, their families and caregivers and people who are bereaved; maintain referral services through which people who require home health, personal care, palliative care or hospice services are referred to member agencies; and/or provide information about employment opportunities for people working in the field.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.