What do you think of when you hear the word ‘hospice’? Many might think of a type of hospital that is only for people at the end of their lives. Unsurprisingly, this can paint quite a depressing picture!
In reality, hospices are friendly, welcoming places that offer the definition of tender loving care.
Focusing on respect, compassion and dignity, hospices are great resources for people living with life-changing, chronic diagnoses.
What do hospices do?
Hospices aim to improve the lives of people with incurable illnesses, from the point of diagnosis through to end of life care.
Their goal is to help people live as fully as possible, despite illness. Hospices understand that the best way to do this is to provide holistic care – this means considering every aspect of a person’s life, such as their physical, emotional, social, practical and spiritual needs.
This care is also available for an individual’s family and loved ones, and is free and accessible to all.
What kind of services do they provide?
Well-rounded, holistic care comes in all shapes and sizes. If you’re living with a life-changing diagnosis, you may need different types of support at different stages of your illness.
- Symptom management – from drug-based pain control to complementary therapies such as aromatherapy and massage
- Psychological and social support – for when you just need to chat to a friendly face
- Rehabilitation – specialist physiotherapy care for the physical effects of your illness
- Practical advice – help with the everyday or financial issues that often accompany a life-changing diagnosis
- Spiritual care – multi-faith support for life’s deeper questions
- Bereavement support – from planning end of life care to counselling loved ones
Where do they deliver care?
It’s a common misconception that hospice care is only delivered at the hospice itself. Actually, hospice staff often visit people in their own homes or at other community organisations.
However, if you do go into a hospice, whether for day services or longer-term end of life care, you can expect to find a warm, inviting environment. Visitors are usually free to stop by whenever they please, with no fixed visiting hours.
Hospices are staffed by a range of professionals, such as doctors, physiotherapists and qualified counsellors, and are supported by trained volunteers.
How can I find a hospice?
In the UK, your GP, carer or district nurse can connect you with your local hospice. You can also use the NHS Hospice Services Search to search using your postcode.