The concept of a hospice developed during the Middle Ages as a place that cared for the sick, the injured, the dying, and for travelers who needed a refuge. As the idea evolved, hospice care came to focus on palliative care for those who were dying - providing support and care that was not aimed at curing the life-ending diagnosis but that allowed the patient and significant others to die with dignity.
Hospice services address all the needs that may be present as an individual approaches death. There may be need for pain management, which can be given. There also may be need for emotional or spiritual support for the patient or for family and friends. Hospice can provide assistance with personal cares, with household chores, with transportation to appointments for services or for final wish types of outings. Hospice services frequently continue after the death by providing bereavement support for family members.