5 things to know about hospice care

When the time comes to decide about the symptom management of a loved one that is suffering from a terminal illness, family members often aren’t sure whether they should consider hospice care. This reluctance to consider palliative care by hospices frequently stems from the belief that accessing this type of care means that the patient and the family are giving up.

However, this is not the case, and is only one of many misconceptions that people may have about hospice care, like the services that HospiceWits provides.

Here are five things to know about hospice care.

1. Hospice care is not only for people who have cancer

Hospice care includes the management of symptoms and psychosocial support for a range of illnesses and conditions, not only for terminal cancer patients (known as palliative care). This includes other life-limiting illnesses like neurological disorders, stroke, AIDS-related illnesses or end-stage renal, heart or lung disease. Care is provided to patients who are no longer seeking a cure for their condition, but are rather looking for comfort, quality of life and symptom management.

2. Patients can change their mind

While patients have to meet certain criteria to qualify for hospice care, they are always free to pursue more aggressive medical treatment should they decide to do so, with the option to access hospice care again later, provided they qualify for it. No patient with a prognosis of six months or less is turned away from HospiceWits.

3. Hospice provides support to the family and the patient

Primary hospice care is provided to patients with life-limiting illnesses, but the hospice interdisciplinary team also provide psychosocial and other support to the family of patients. This includes grief, loss and bereavement counselling after a patient has passed away.

4. Accessing hospice care does not mean a patient is abandoning all medical care

Patients who are receiving hospice care may still wish to see their medical practitioner and make their own medical decisions. With hospice care, the focus shifts from curative treatments to other therapies that help manage pain and other symptoms, whilst assisting the patient to celebrate their life right through to the end.

5. With hospice care, patients may actually live longer

According to a study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, patients receiving hospice care lived an average of 29 days longer than other patients that were not receiving hospice care. This is because patients often feel better once their symptoms and pain are controlled better.

If you or a family member have received a terminal diagnosis, you can rest assured that HospiceWits aims to ensure quality of life and support. To find out more, contact HospiceWits.