When Is Hospice Needed?

How It Works and a List of Resources Available in Santa Barbara

Hospice is specialized, compassionate care for people with a terminal illness and includes services and support for their families and caregivers. Here are the important points to understand about the practice:

  The patient’s medical prognosis must be six months or less; however, if a patient lives longer, hospice care can be extended.

  Hospice services are provided wherever the patient is: home, hospital, clinic, or special hospice facilities.

  Medical hospice care addresses pain as well as the emotional, social, and spiritual needs so that patients and their families can focus on comfort and quality of life. 

  Hospice offers family members and caregivers counseling, respite care, and help with practical matters such as cooking, cleaning, and transportation.

Hospice Resources in Santa Barbara

Hospice of Santa Barbara: 2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Ste. 100;
(805) 563-8820; hospiceofsantabarbara.org

  Doctors’ orders and prognosis are not required 
  All services are free of charge
 Individual, family, and group counseling for children, teens, and adults
  Support groups include loss of late-term pregnancy, widows/widowers, and pet loss 
  In-home evaluation and support 
  All services are available in Spanish
  Specially trained and supervised volunteers
  Respite care, household help, transportation
  Companionship and support
Community outreach and education programs

VNA Health/Serenity House: 512 E. Gutierrez St.; (805) 965-5555;

  Operates Serenity House, an 18-bed inpatient hospice house
  Doctors’ orders are required: six months or less prognosis 
  Insurance is billed
  Medical care, pain and symptom relief
  Bereavement support
  Dietary counseling
  Integrative therapies: reflexology, guided imagery, music, aromatherapy, reiki
  All services are available in Spanish
  Specially trained and supervised volunteers

Assisted Home Care: 302 N. Milpas St.; (805) 569-2000;

  Doctors’ orders are required: six months or less prognosis
  Insurance is billed
  Bereavement support
  Veteran services
  All services are available in Spanish
  Specially trained and supervised volunteers

Sarah House: 2612 Modoc Rd.; (805) 563-9990; sarahhousesb.org

  Prognosis of less than three months
  Residential end-of-life care for people with low income
  Eight private bedrooms in a shared living environment
  Medical care can be integrated through local hospice providers
  Caregiver respite and support

Death Doulas and Midwives

The movement to return death to a human event, not a medical one, has spawned the emergence of this new health professional: the death doula. According to the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, the role of the doula is to “provide non-medical holistic support and comfort,” helping families and patients recognize death as part of the natural cycle of life. See nedalliance.org

In a similar vein, Los Angeles–based Mitch Metzner is a midwife who devotes his life to supporting people along their final journey. “A good death is not always possible, but a better death almost certainly is,” explained Metzner, who assists the dying and their families to face death meaningfully and consciously. See mitchmetzner.com


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