How to support someone being cared for by the Hospice team

HospiceWits provides high quality care to patients in and around the greater Johannesburg and Soweto area. It’s trained staff assist patients with pain management, symptom control, palliative care, counselling and spiritual care. However, many family members and friends feel they too should provide the support their loved ones need. The question is, how, exactly?

First of all, many families caring for someone with a life threatening illness and the patient themselves are not entirely sure what it is that they need. Asked the question, family, friends and the patient would not be able to answer with any certainty, and this is where HospiceWits is able to guide the caregiver.

Assess what the patient’s needs are on a practical level. You can help by preparing them a care package when the patient is being cared for in the In-patient unit with essentials like a toothbrush and toothpaste, towel and face cloth, clean clothing and other items from home that would make them comfortable in a home-away-from-home setting, e.g Flowers, personal photos and even their own blanket or pillow.  

The best way to support and assist your loved one is to visit them while they are in Hospice care. Some people may feel anxious or uncomfortable entering a Hospice In-patient unit, however, the visit does mean a great deal to your friend or family member. Even if they are not able to communicate with you in the way you remember, they still know that you are there to be with them and lift their spirits.

Don’t be afraid if they want to talk about their illness or condition. It’s important for them to express their feelings, however, don’t push the subject if it’s not something they wish to discuss. Be there for them, listen and offer them some physical affection as well.

You may take your loved one out, depending on their condition and limitations. Going to their favourite nursery or coffee shop will help to lift their emotions and give them a sense of normalcy.

You can also assist the family of the patient in this difficult time. Offering to take their family member to, for example, their next doctor’s visit or cook them a meal, will help take some of the burden off them.

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