Pain and Symptom Management

HospiceWits takes care of patients who have life limiting and life threatening illnesses in and around the greater Johannesburg and Soweto communities. Part of the ethos of hospice care is to ensure that patients are able to spend their time in their care comfortably, with dignity and with quality of life.

Pain management is one of the primary goals of hospice care. In order to be able to manage pain and symptoms, the highly trained staff at HospiceWits will complete an impeccable assessment of each patient to determine where they are experiencing pain as well as how severe that pain is. Pain is what the patient says it is, be it physical, psychological, social or spiritual pain. HospiceWits has a dynamic multi-disciplinary team who are qualified to manage pain and distressing symptoms. Pain will be graded on a scale from one to ten with one being the least pain and ten the worst pain; this is known as intensity of pain. Pain will also be determined by site where it is located; how long the pain lasts for example is it constant or intermittent, and the type of pain for example bone pain, muscle pain or nerve pain. The treatment of choice will be influenced by the factors.

Patients may experience a range of pain and discomfort. This includes spiritual and emotional distress, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, swelling, inflammation and muscle ache and spasm. HospiceWits takes a holistic approach to patient care, which is why they also offer spiritual and psychological help to their patients and their families.

There are several ways to manage pain in hospice care, and yes, one of those ways are with medications designed to manage different types of pain such as bone pain or nerve pain. Our specialised team of Doctors and Nurses will recommend the correct medication to treat the pain. Many family members may feel that this is a difficult subject to discuss, however, understanding that your loved one experiences symptoms and pain relief from medication can place their minds at ease. The palliative care team will be there every step of the journey to provide additional support to families through counselling and education.

Supplementary oxygen also promotes healing and the lowering of pain associated with breathing difficulties and can be administered to patients as a pain management intervention ensuring their breathing is more comfortable. Our HospiceWits Doctor will prescribe the oxygen when necessary and when the need arises. Other ways of managing pain include massage, music therapy and even animal therapy; this is called diversional therapy.

Massage is shown to assist with muscle aches and pains as well as muscle spasm. Combined with carefully chosen aromatherapy oils that assist with pain reduction, this can be a wonderful way for a patient to not just experience pain relief, but to relax as well. Even something as simple as applying heat or ice to the area of discomfort can bring enormous relief. Other simple solutions are moving or repositioning the patient so that they are in a more comfortable position, dimming the lights for those who are light sensitive and even just spending time with the patient and talking to them.

Music and animal therapy are shown to reduce symptoms of stress, which ultimately has an overall effect on the general well being of the patient. Breathing exercises can also contribute to pain and symptom management, particularly when it comes to anxiety.

HospiceWits endeavours to improve the quality of life of the patients under their care and needs your help in order to continue providing excellent care to the communities in and around Johannesburg and Soweto.

For more information on how you can make a difference to HospiceWits, visit

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