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photo Common Heroes
Choices in Hospice Care
By Robert Ruvkun

Facing terminal illness can be terrifying, not only for patients, but also for family members who must choose how best to help and care for their loved one at the end of life. Both patients and their families are likely to experience anger, denial, family conflicts, and a whole range of complex emotional issues, not to mention physical issues such as pain management. Today, they are increasingly likely to turn to the staff of hospice programs to provide support and guidance through the dying process.

This revealing video follows the nurses, physicians, social workers and clergy who make up the hospice team. It demonstrates the ways they collaborate to help families develop care plans that will maximize each patient's quality of life during the end stages of their illness, while also providing family support and grief counseling. Threaded through the documentary are the moving stories of several hospice patients. Also shown is an innovative program at the University of California, San Diego, where all medical students undergo a hospice rotation.

30 minutes
© 2001
Purchase $199 DVD
Order No. QA-330
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-864-2

"An uncommon documentary. I know of no better introduction to the subjects of terminal illness and hospice care. It effectively conveys the critical role that hospice plays in bringing the power of medicine to helping ill persons and families make the most of the time remaining. This video deserves to be part of the education program of every health system." Ira Byock, MD, palliative care physician and author of Dying Well

"A masterful overview of hospice services. With great sensitivity and facility, the video presents critical end-of-life issues. It should be required viewing for every medical student, regardless of their specialty." Dr. Saadi Ghatan, Columbia University

"Views dying as a necessary part of living and offers hope and comfort." Booklist

"This film is skillfully edited, weaving together episodes of the hospice team in action along with the personal narratives of the various professionals, patients, and family members involved. This video is highly recommended for anyone interested in understanding how hospice works." Educational Media Reviews

Awards & Conference Screenings
Silver, National Health Information Awards
American Society on Aging
American Psychological Association

Related Films
The Journey Home: The candid stories of five patients exemplify the unique gifts of hope, relief, and dignity that hospice care programs offer to thousands of terminally ill patients each year.

Self Deliverance: This unflinching portrait was filmed in Australia's Northern Territory, where Parliament was debating the world's first legislation guaranteeing terminally ill people the right to a physician-assisted death. It includes articulate testimony from physicians on both sides of this controversial issue, but its primary focus is on one courageous man's determination to confront death in his own way.

Caring at the End of Life: Based on six case studies of seriously ill hospitalized patients, this moving film focuses on the key roles of nursing staff in improving patient-clinician communication in end-of-life care.

Stanley: This disturbing case study raises complex issues about medical prognosis and religious belief in end-of-life decision-making. Part of the Caring at the End of Life series.

Discussing Advance Directives: A nursing team and physician meet to discuss the difficulties they encounter in working with patients on advance directives. Part of the Caring at the End of Life series.


Awards & Screenings

Related Films

Web Resources

To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website