Hospice care can be an end of life service allowing terminally ill patients to die without pain or suffering, but deciding when it is needed can be a painful decision for families
Hospices offer comprehensive palliative care to people with terminal illnesses. They address the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of their residents, and also support the terminally ill patients’ loved ones.
Hospice care can be delivered at the home of the patient, as well as in the hospice, and in many cases, patients are cared for at home and then if appropriate will move to the hospice.
The well trained staff and volunteers enable residents to face the end of their lives with dignity, respect, tolerance and care. They understand the issues facing their residents and the families and friends who visit their terminally ill loved ones.
Appropriate health care specialists provide a range of services to meet the various individual needs of each resident.
How to get hospice care
GPs can provide a referral for home care. When it is clear that home care is no longer a practical option, those providing home care, or the patient's GP, can refer the patient for a place in a hospice. Terminally ill individuals or their close family members can also apply for a place in a local hospice.
How to find local hospices
Hospice UK is a nationwide organisation that includes a comprehensive information service including an online search tool of all hospices in the UK.
Choosing a hospice
You will usually be referred to the hospice that is closest to your home. However, there may be special circumstances that warrant a referral to a hospice elsewhere.
The patient, or their carer, should find out which suitable hospices have an available place and if the patient meets their criteria for entry. Each hospice has its own assessment criteria so if a patient doesn't meet the criteria for a particular hospice, it is possible that he or she will meet the criteria of another hospice.
Usually, a representative from the hospice will visit the patient to assess whether they can accept the patient and when the stay at the hospice should start.
Hospices do not charge. Most are run by charities as Government funding to hospices is currently only 30 per cent. This means that hospice places are limited.
Many people now use their funerals or those of a loved one as a way of raising money for a specific hospice or for the hospice movement.