Hospice History and Facts

  • The origin of the concept of Hospice began in Europe in the 4th century. Monasteries opened their doors to travelers and provided food and shelter. It was considered a place of rest.
  • In the 19th century, London hospices were opened as a place for the dying.
  • The first modern day Hospice was opened in London in 1967 and today’s version of Hospice was conceived by Cicely Saunders.
  • The first American Hospice opened in 1974 by Florence Wald.
  • In 2006 1.3 million people received Hospice care in the 4,500 Hospice programs throughout the US.
  • 36% of all deaths occurred under the care of a Hospice program.
  • The average length of stay in a hospice program is 29 days.
  • 48% of hospice patients die in residence, 25% in nursing homes, and 27% in in-patient hospitals.
  • In 2006, 44.1% of Hospice patients had cancer, 55.9% had non-cancer diagnoses including heart disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and pulmonary disease.
  • Hospice patients live an average of one month longer than non-hospice patients.
  • The Medicare hospice benefit was enacted by congress in 1982 and provides payment for hospice services.
  • Hospice services save money for Medicare while providing high quality care.
  • In 2006 there were 400,000 volunteers in hospice.
  • The average volunteer devotes 41 hours of their time over the course of a year.
  • Four out of five patients are 65 or older, 33% are 85 or older.