Rancho Santa Fe Senior Scene: Myths and facts about hospice care


By Terrie Litwin, RSF Senior Center, executive director

Hospice care in the United States has grown dramatically from a volunteer-led movement to a widely recognized and important component of the health care system. According to information from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the term “hospice” can be traced back to medieval times when it referred to a place of rest for weary or ill travelers. The name was first applied to specialized care for terminally ill patients in 1967 by Dame Cicely Saunders, a physician who founded St. Christopher’s Hospice in London – the first modern hospice. Saunders began her career as a nurse and later became a medical social worker. Her work with terminally ill patients helped to develop her ideas regarding the need for compassionate care to address psychological and spiritual needs as well as physical pain. After a physician suggested that she could best influence care by becoming a doctor, she entered medical school and received her degree in 1957.

During a lecture at Yale University in 1963, Dr. Saunders introduced the idea of hospice care to medical students, nurses, social workers, and chaplains. Around the same time, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book titled, “On Death and Dying,” which was based on interviews with over 500 patients. The book became an international best seller. Dr. Kubler-Ross promoted the idea that terminally ill patients should not be isolated or institutionalized and that it was possible to provide appropriate care in the patient’s home by supporting families with regular visits from specially trained home care assistants and visiting nurses. Today, more than 1.4 million individuals and their families receive hospice care.

Please join us at the Senior Center on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 2 p.m. for “10 Myths and Facts about Hospice Care,” presented by Sherry Taylor-Englund, community relations manager, with San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine. Sherry is responsible for developing and implementing education to San Diego County community members regarding end of life care. Sherry has worked in the field of hospice since 2000. She will provide detailed information regarding all aspects of hospice care and answer questions from attendees.

The staff and board of directors of the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center extend warm wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!