The word "hospice" stems from the Latin word "hospitium" meaning guesthouse. It was originally used to describe a place of shelter for weary and sick travelers returning from religious pilgrimages. During the 1960's a British physician named Dr. Cicely Saunders began the modern hospice movement by establishing St. Christopher's Hospice near London. St. Christopher's organized a team approach to professional caregiving and was the first program to use modern pain management techniques to compassionately care for the dying. The first hospice in the United States was established in New Haven, Connecticut in 1974. Hospice is no longer a place, but a program of care that is delivered to patients and their families wherever they live. Now there are thousands of hospice programs in the US serving millions of people each year.
The vast majority of hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, a family member's home, or in a nursing home.