Mental health support is an important aspect of hospice care, which many people are unaware of. It is a vital part of the work that HospiceWits does in supporting the communities in the greater Johannesburg and Soweto areas.
Hospice provides mental health support to patients, and when needed, to their families. This support may even include spiritual support as terminal patients approach the end of their lives while under hospice care.
HospiceWits understands the value of caring for a patient’s mental as well as physical needs. Poor mental health can have a knock-on effect when it comes to physical health and vice versa, which makes caring for both aspects is tantamount to helping a patient and their loved ones come to terms with their life-limiting illness.
Many patients may experience anxiety and depression, either as a psychological result of their diagnosis or being placed in hospice care, or because these may be symptoms of their physical illness. Some patients also come to hospice with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Both are conditions that would need additional psychiatric handling under hospice care.
Families can also be taught or shown how to take care of their loved one during this stage of the life. People at the ends of their lives need company, someone to be beside them, while they face arguably the most challenging part of their lives.
Hospice care teams are trained to provide emotional and psychological support, however, when needed, they do call on the assistance of social workers, counsellors or psychologists. Spiritual support is also available for patients.
How families can help patients with mental health
- Spend time with your loved one. Reminisce, talk or just be present with them. Your presence brings them comfort and alleviates loneliness. Even if your loved one is in a state of unconsciousness, spending time with them is valuable to both you and them.
- Listen. Allow your loved one to express their feelings and create a safe and healing space for them to do so. There may be things that could be difficult to hear, but it is important for your friend or family member to give voice to how they feel and let you know what their needs and wishes are.
- Honour their wishes. Many patients may express specific wishes surrounding their pre- and post-death care. Allow them to tell you what they feel and need and in turn, honour those wishes.
Mental health is important for families and friends of a loved one who is under hospice care as well as the patients themselves. During difficult times, it is vital to seek out the right support in order to deal with anticipatory grief as well as mourning.
HospiceWits recognises the value of mental wellness. This is why it is one of the services they provide.