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Within two weeks of opening to patients in October, the Willard Walker Hospice Home was filled with signs of life. "I walked in one day and there were kids playing a game in the children's den, families sharing potluck in the kitchen, laundry going in the washer and dryer and a young couple having a quiet conversation on one of the sun porches," says Paula Hartz, RN. director of Washington Regional Hospice and Home Health. "Every area was being used in just the way we had imagined." Paula and her team had been envisioning Fayetteville's first hospice home for nearly 10 years, visiting other facilities and consulting other hospice administrators. "We've been making a list of all the things they said they wish they had included in their own facilities. We wanted our hospice home to be designed to serve the needs of patients and their families. We wanted them to have everything they need to be comfortable." While hospice care can take place in a variety of settings — the patient's home, a hospital, a long-term nursing facility — the overarching goal of hospice is to provide care with a de-institutionalized, homelike approach that emphasizes comfort. According to a 2010 poll by Harris Interactive, most Americans prefer this approach. At least 75 percent of poll respondents would choose homelike care for themselves if they were in the final stage of a terminal illness and 74 percent would prefer having a terminally ill family member taken care of at home with the type of nursing care that hospice provides. With the nation's baby boomers beginning to experience illnesses associated with aging, an increasing number are turning to hospice and home health for help in navigating a potentially exhausting and challenging time. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that more than 1.5 million Americans are receiving comprehensive hospice care from more than 5,000 hospice programs across the country. >> 11

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