Compared to human hospice, which has a 50-year history, animal hospice is a relatively new concept. The principles used in providing care are similar for both: the unit of care is patient (pet) and family; a holistic approach addresses the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual domains; an interdisciplinary team delivers care in the home environment; and there is bereavement follow-up. In both settings, grief will be experienced. Disenfranchised grief, experienced by a higher percent of caregivers and families in animal hospice, may result in unresolved grief.
This presentation will include a discussion of disenfranchised and unresolved grief, as well as the types of caregivers considered most at risk and why. Lessons learned from human hospice regarding the spiritual, psychological and social domains of care, with a minimum emphasis on the physical domain where the veterinarian is the authority, will be shared during the discussion. In closing, a case study that demonstrates all aspects of animal hospice, with an emphasis on how the interdisciplinary team works, will be presented.