For those diagnosed with a life-limiting or incurable illness, hospice care can provide invaluable support, helping terminal individuals to live as fully and as comfortably for as long as possible. Available to both adults and children, the care offered by hospices is incredibly personal and can be tailored to suit the needs of an individual, whatever they may be. It is available to people at any stage in their end of life journey and if desired, can be put on hold if it is temporarily unneeded. If you're considering hospice care for yourself or a loved one, take a look at our guide to help you make the right choice regarding end of life care:
Where does Hospice Care take place?
Due to its holistic nature, hospice care can be provided in several venues rather than being restricted to just one specific location. Most commonly, hospice care takes place at a person's home. However, it can also be provided in care homes and at hospices themselves, where patients can take full-time residency or visit on a regular basis. The aim of hospice staff, including doctors, nurses, counsellors, therapists and volunteers, is to create an environment as calm and as comfortable as possible, making the hospice feel like a home from home for patients.
What does Hospice Care include?
Hospice care covers a multiplicity of services including:
• pain control
• symptom control
• psychological support
• social support
• complimentary therapy e.g. massages
• counselling for patients and their families
• bereavement support
• financial information and support
• respite care
If you're considering hospice care, a visit to your local or chosen hospice can be helpful, where staff can show you their facilities and discuss any queries or concerns you may have.
When does Hospice Care begin?
There is a common misconception that hospice care is only available to those who are at the end of their lives. However, this is not the case; hospice care can be used at any stage of a person's terminal illness, whether that be at the very beginning or towards the end of their journey. For example, specialised hospice teams can provide help with managing symptoms while a patient still lives independently at home. Similarly, individuals may stay at a hospice for a short-term period to give their families or carers a break; this is known as respite care. Ultimately, hospice care is used in conjunction with the needs and wishes of individual patients.
How much does Hospice Care cost?
Hospice care is free to all and can be used by anyone regardless of their financial situation. Although you can contact hospices yourself, the staff at the hospice will usually request a referral from a doctor or nurse. Because most hospices are government and publicly funded, places can at times limited. However, if your local or chosen hospice cannot offer you a place, there will be alternative hospices that can.
Finding your Local Hospice
There are various ways to find a hospice that is local to you, including:
• asking your GP or nurse
• contacting Hospice UK
• looking on the end of life care and hospice services search
• visiting the Dying Matters website and using the Find me help service
As well as these methods, enlisting the help of others, such as family or friends, can also be useful when finding hospice care. Similarly, charities such as Age UK can provide useful advice concerning hospice care and other end of life issues.
Hospice care is not something that anybody wants to consider. However, if the time comes that it is needed, for many, it can prove invaluable. For other elderly advice concerning end of life care, please visit our other pages. If you have any questions or experiences that you wish to share with us about hospice care, please get in touch on our social media channels.