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What is a Hospice?

There is a common belief that a hospice is where patients go to die. That is not true. The average stay in a hospice is twelve to fourteen days, after which many patients return home feeling better.

During their stay, patients will receive treatment (known as palliative care) to help relieve pain and other symptoms causing discomfort. They will also receive a great deal of love, care and skilled attention from trained medical, nursing and support staff. Hospice patients are teenagers or adults. Eighty per cent of patients will have cancer but the remaining twenty per cent will be suffering from a wide variety of illnesses where hospice expertise can make a difference.

A hospice cannot claim to extend life, but it can certainly improve the quality of life for each patient, so that each day can be lived to the full.

When a patient returns home he or she can be visited by a Community Hospice Specialist Palliative Care Team who will give help to the patient, their family and carers to ensure that all are coping and comfortable.

Some patients may attend the day care centre or return to a hospice for a short stay, possibly to give their family a respite from the stress of nursing on a 24 hour basis.

Most patients would like to die in their own homes in which case, this would be the aim of the hospice team, but the patient can always be re-admitted at the end if that is their choice, or if the family feels it is for the best.

A hospice is there to help, not to intrude. The closeness of family and friends during terminal illness is recognised. The hospice fully recognises and respects cultural, ethnic and religious differences. Great care is taken to ensue that these priorities are never forgotten.

The other concern of a hospice is the relative or carer who will be left behind. The loss of a loved one is very painful, and there can be practical problems. Bereavement experts are on hand to give their support if required. It is all part of the service.

All this is provided at no cost to relatives or patients, regardless of age, wealth, faith or none.

Hospices were originally resting places for the weary traveller...... they still are. But more, they add quality and dignity to the lives of those who visit, ensuring that, if required, the remainder of the journey is not undertaken alone.

Hospices not only deal with physical pain but also psychological and spiritual pain