I volunteered at Yolo Hospice. It is a non-profit organization that helps those who have less than six months to live and want to have that time as comfortably as possible, often at home. I hadn’t known about hospice growing up, but the more I learned about the larger medical system we live in, the more I became interested in alternatives to maximal treatment. I have found it quite amazing and caring. The services are provided free of charge to patients and families, and include doctors and nurses expert in pain management, social workers, home health aides, spiritual care, grief counselors, and volunteers. There is a nice article on the gift of hospice.
There are an increasing number of for-profit hospices now appearing. I have not had direct experience with them, but have started hearing of experiences that suggest that there is tension between being for-profit and caring, especially since the patients are not the payers. I fear that the process I studied in Drugs for Life concerning pharmaceutical development will happen to hospice care.