Glossary of Common Hospice Terms
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of hospice care, palliative care or other related services, you may encounter some uncommon hospice terminology that you are unfamiliar with. Our hospice terminology glossary below is a comprehensive list of common terms that may be used by doctors, nurses, hospice aides, or other healthcare professionals in the hospice industry.
This glossary will be updated frequently, but if you don’t see the term you’re looking for below, or you have additional questions, contact us by choosing an option from the blue bar above.
Hospice Terms Glossary:
- ADLS (Activities of Daily Living)
- Advance Directive
- Assisted Living Facility
- Bereavement Coordinator
- CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)
- CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
- DNR/AND (do not resuscitate/allow natural death)
- E-Kit (Emergency Symptom Kit)
- Healthcare Proxy
- Hospice Aide
- Hospice Discharge
These are the routine life tasks that people do every day. The six basic ADLs are eating, bathing, getting dressed, toileting, transferring and continence. Inability to perform any of these tasks is a consideration for hospice eligibility. Learn more about hospice eligibility criteria here.
Also referred to as a living will, an advance directive is a legal document that allows an individual to specify what healthcare actions may be taken if the individual is no longer able to make decisions for his or herself due to illness or incapacity. Learn more about advance directives here.
Assisted living facilities are a housing option for senior adults who may require some assistance, but do not need nursing care or other medical support provided in nursing homes. Learn more about assisted living facilities here.
Atropine drops are used in the hospice setting to reduce excess mucus secretion and saliva production when patients are no longer able to clear their throats themselves. Learn more about atropine here.
Bereavement coordinators, also known as bereavement counselors, provide support to families struggling with grief after the loss of a loved one. Learn more about bereavement coordinators here.
Chaplains are an ordained member of the clergy who provide spiritual support to patients and their families. Learn more about chaplains here.
CMS is a federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services that administers the Medicare program and partners with state governments to administer the Medicaid program. Learn more about CMS here.
CPR is an emergency procedure performed when the heart stops beating. Learn more about CPR here.
A DNR is a legal order to withhold CPR or other life-saving measures in accordance with the patient’s wishes to allow natural death to occur if they stop breathing or their heart stops beating. Learn more about DNR orders here.
The E-Kit or comfort care kit is a small quantity of medication that can be used to rapidly treat symptoms that can occur in a patient with a terminal illness. Learn more about what is included in an E-Kit here.
Sometimes referred to as Haloperidol, Haldol is used to treat delirium and terminal agitation. Learn more about Haldol here.
Also known as a durable power of attorney (POA), a healthcare proxy is a legal document that appoints a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are no longer capable of making your own decisions due to illness or incapacity. Learn more about setting up a healthcare proxy here.
Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on providing physical, emotional and spiritual support intended to comfort and improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients. Learn more about hospice here.
A hospice aide, sometimes called a CNA or STNA, addresses each patient’s personal care needs including grooming, bathing and feeding. Learn more about the role of hospice aides here.
When a patient is determined to no longer be eligible for hospice services, the patient may be discharged from hospice, and hospice services will cease. Learn more about hospice discharges here.
Hospice volunteers are compassionate members of the community who donate their time and talents to support terminally ill patients. Learn more about hospice volunteers here.
In order to have true informed consent, a patient must understand all the risks, benefits and alternative options associated with the care being provided. Learn more about informed consent here.
The full hospice care team must meet to discuss each patient and review their plan of care every 14 days. Learn more about the members of the interdisciplinary group here.
Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety in terminally ill patients and can be used alone or in combination with other medications to treat nausea and vomiting. Learn more about Lorazepam here.
The hospice medical director is part of the interdisciplinary team and oversees patient care. They assist in establishing goals and adjusting the patient’s plan of care as needed. Learn more about the medical director role here.
If a patient meets Medicare hospice eligibility criteria, the cost of their care will be 100% covered by Medicare. Learn more about the Medicare Benefit here.
When the heart is no longer able to pump blood effectively, blood pressure slows throughout the body. It can cause red or purple marbled appearance in the extremities, which is called mottling. Learn more about mottled skin here.
Palliative care is treatment to manage the pain, symptoms and side effects of chronic illness. Patients may receive palliative care at any stage of their illness and can continue to pursue curative treatment. Learn more about palliative care here.
The hospice patient bill of rights is a list of rights guaranteed to patients and their families. Learn more about the patient’s bill of rights here.
Prochlorperazine is used to control nausea and vomiting. Learn more about prochlorperazine here.
The registered nurse case manager provides nursing care to manage a hospice patient’s symptoms. Learn more about the registered nurse case manager role here.
In the hospice setting, Roxanol is used to treat severe pain and shortness of breath in terminally ill patients. Learn more about Roxanol here.
Skilled nursing care, often provided in a skilled nursing facility or medical rehabilitation center, includes physical, occupational and speech therapy. Patients may not receive the Medicare skilled care benefit and the Medicare hospice benefit simultaneously. Learn more about transitioning from skilled care to hospice care here.
Terminal restlessness or terminal agitation is a common symptom at end of life that includes extreme agitation, anxiety and confusion. Learn more about terminal restlessness here.