Category: Care

How to make the festive season special for family or friends receiving hospice care

The festive season is traditionally a time of togetherness with those closest to us, but it is easy to forget about the beauty of this time of the year when one has a family member or close friend who is receiving hospice care.

Of course, this doesn’t have to be the case, and there are a myriad of ways to make the festive season special – for you and for your family member. Whether they are receiving palliative care in an in-patient facility or at home, spreading the Christmas cheer will help to lift everyone’s spirit, and end the year with a profound sense of gratitude.

If your loved one is receiving home care

When a family member is receiving palliative care at home, it is important to take note of the following:

  • If guests are coming over, keep in mind that decorations, activities and guest accommodation should not interfere with the aspects and equipment related to your loved one’s care.
  • Ask your relative what Christmas traditions they would like to have incorporated. Find out what their favourite Christmas rituals, songs and movies are, and try to make these a part of your celebrations this year.
  • Remember that your loved one might not be able to keep up with the pace of the silly season – try not overwhelm or over-stimulate them with too many guests or activities at once.

If your loved one is receiving in-patient care

Not having a relative join the rest of the family can by trying for everyone involved, but you can make this time special for a loved one, even when they’re not at home.

  • Christmas is known for the culinary delights associated with it. Ask your loved one what Christmas dishes they have been craving, then prepare these and take it to them on Christmas Day.
  • Take the Christmas spirit to your loved one by putting up decorations and lights in their room – a tiny Christmas tree will literally and figuratively brighten their space.
  • Remember your loved one may not want any Christmas treats – respect that wish.

If you are unable to spend Christmas with your loved one due to Covid-19 restrictions

This year has been challenging for all of us, and indeed, many festive celebrations will be disrupted due to Covid-19. If you are unable to pay your loved one a visit this year, make them feel loved by sending a gift or care package, letting them know that you are with them in spirit. Ensure that you give them a call on Christmas Day to wish them well.

Not being able to be close to our nearest and dearest can be tough on everyone. If you are feeling low at the prospect of not seeing your family member this year, try to incorporate their favourite traditions into your own celebrations to ensure that they are still an integral part of your Christmas festivities.

Fill your Christmas stockings at the HospiceWits shops

If you’ve ever visited one of our HospiceWits charity shops in Johannesburg, you’ll know that the sheer variety available is staggering. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re likely to find it at a HospiceWits shop. Add to this the fact that the items we stock in our shops are very reasonably priced, and it makes sense why HospiceWits’ charity shops should be your first stop when you start ticking items off your Christmas shopping list.

The HospiceWits charity shops are based in Parkmore, Orange Grove and Kensington, along with our regular spot at the Rosebank Flea Market, each with its own collection of treasures. Ranging from second-hand clothing, wool and household appliances to vintage items, board games, books and white elephant items, there is truly something for every taste.

The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly impacted all of our lives this year, and if you are looking to scale down the spend on Christmas presents, or for something to suit the budget set for your company’s Secret Santa celebrations, HospiceWits shops are where you will be able to tick items off your gift-shopping list.

An appeal for donations

Every item sold in our HospiceWits charity shops adds to the funds that our non-profit organisation needs to provide care and support to our patients, and cater for all the costs associated with our palliative care services in Johannesburg and surrounds.

When dropping by to do your Christmas shopping, please consider bringing along unused clothing, books and household and miscellaneous items to donate. Keeping our shelves stocked this December is key – especially considering that you’ll probably leave with more items than when you arrived.

We are always looking for:

• Pots, pans and kitchen goods
• Crockery, cutlery
• Linen and curtains
• Ladies’, men’s and children’s clothing
• Furniture
• Electrical items in working order
• Ornaments, bric-a-brac, general home goods
• Books, DVDs and CDs
• Toys

We always appreciate any non-perishable food donations for distribution to our patients.

Thank you in advance for your support, as we look forward to welcoming you to our HospiceWits charity shops soon during this festive season.

Parkmore

Location: Corner of 11th Street and Elizabeth Avenue
Contact number: 011 883 7242
Email address: parkmore@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 08:00 – 14:00

Orange Grove

Location: 199 Louis Botha Avenue
Contact number: 011 728 1052
Email address: depot@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 09:00 – 14:00

Kensington

Location: 163 Queen Street
Contact number: 011 615 3343
Email address: kensington@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 14:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 09:00 – 14:00

Rosebank Flea Market

Location: Rosebank Mall, 15A Cradock Avenue
Contact number: 011 728 1052
Email address: shops@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Sunday: 08:00 – 16:00

A word of gratitude from HospiceWits

When looking back at 2020, almost all the reflections are likely to speak of a time that was extraordinarily challenging, but that also yielded plenty of reason for hope. As HospiceWits ruminates on the year that has passed, this is certainly also the tone of our musings.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic put HospiceWits under immense strain as we continued to provide essential services to our communities. As an NPO, we are reliant upon donations from the public and from industry to help us provide these services. The virus had a devastating effect on livelihoods all across the country and the world, and similarly affected us and other organisations like ours.

Not being able to hold key events on our fundraising calendar in the traditional way certainly didn’t make things easier. However, despite the logistic obstacles that the national lockdown and social distancing requirements brought, we were still able to reinvent these events and present them in the online sphere.

The 7th annual HospiceWits Night With the Stars took to the online realm earlier this year, with more than 200 notable personalities banding together on Instagram, and calling on their supporters to contribute to HospiceWits, whilst raising awareness about the organisation’s work. Among the celebs that lent their voices to the cause on 28 July were Pabi Moloi, Brümilda van Rensburg, Lady Zamar, Gert-Johan Coetzee, David Tlale, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Marcia Barret of the music group, Boney M.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus also hampered this year’s HospiceWits Tree of Light celebration, which is traditionally held at the Johannesburg Zoo. Here, too, the internet provided an alternative outlet to focus our fundraising endeavours, and the first virtual Tree of Light gave supporters the opportunity to purchase virtual globes in remembrance of a loved one or to honour our healthcare workers, and share their messages online.

It goes without saying that the curveballs 2020 threw our way were unprecedented in so many ways. Even so, we have been continuously encouraged this year.

We would like to salute each HospiceWits staff member and volunteer – these selfless people have worked without skipping a beat since the pandemic first hit our shores, and have not ceased to provide palliative care and support services to patients in their care. Across the globe, we have seen the resilience and sheer grit of healthcare workers – we are most grateful to be able to call some of these super humans our colleagues.

Likewise, we thank our loyal supporters that keep providing donations (PPEs, pre-loved goods, meals), and who have undoubtedly also felt the knock of the pandemic in some way or another, but have kept us afloat, year-in and year-out, even when the seas have gotten a little stormy.

Lastly, our deep gratitude to everyone that has in some way contributed to HospiceWits this year. Your support and belief in our quality palliative care knows no bounds.

A new year beckons, and we would like to conclude by again humbly asking for your support in 2021, as we certainly wouldn’t be able to do our work without your contributions.

As we bid 2020 farewell, and all it has brought to bear on South Africa and the world, we go forward in hope. May 2021 be good to one and all.

This is how you can donate to HospiceWits with your MySchool card

South Africa’s leading community loyalty programme, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet has paid R57 million to a range of worthy causes this year alone, and has been a loyal supporter of these causes for more than a decade. Once you’ve signed up to receive your own MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card, you are able to nominate up to three charities, who will receive a percentage of your purchase every time you swipe your card at one of the programme’s partner stores.

If you are interested in supporting HospiceWits on a regular basis, but can’t afford regular cash donations, the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme is the easiest way to assist us in our crucial fundraising efforts.

How to sign up

To sign up for the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme, simply visit the programme’s website and click on “Join” in the top-right corner. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to download a virtual card to your mobile device from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, or collect the card from your nearest Woolworths branch.

My School MyVillage MyPlanet has partnered with Woolworths, Engen QuickShops and Foodstops (excluding petrol and diesel purchases at Engen), loot.co.za and Bidvest Waltons, and every time you shop at one of these retailers and swipe your MySchool card at the till point, a percentage of the total amount of your purchase will be donated to your charity (or charities) of choice.

To select HospiceWits as one of your chosen charities, click on the drop-down menu labelled “Beneficiaries” at the top of the homepage, then click on “Search”, and type “Hospice Wits” (two words) into the search box, and click on “Hospice Wits”.

Discovery Vitality members who have Woolworths as their nominated food store will also be able to contribute when they swipe for every healthy food purchase made.

In addition, don’t forget to link your MySchool card to all your Woolies cards, and a percentage will also be given back when you swipe these cards at Woolworths.

Together with HospiceWits’ other annual fundraising efforts, the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme is an easy way to help us to continue doing our work in Johannesburg and Soweto. Your contribution is invaluable.

To find out about other ways in which can donate to HospiceWits, click here.

MySchool MyVillage My Planet has just announced a new partner – Builders Warehouse!

Please find step-by-step instructions to link your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet & Builders cards below. Please log in on www.builders.co.za to create your Builders profile, and follow steps below:

HospiceWits’ palliative care: here is what our doctors, home care nurses and patient’s families have to say

Patients who receive a terminal diagnosis are often taken aback when hospice care is suggested as a part of the holistic approach to the patient’s wellbeing. The negative associations that the word “hospice” carries stem from a range of misconceptions about what this type of care really entails, and especially the impression that receiving hospice care implies that the patient and their family have given up all hope.

HospiceWits abides by the principals of hospice care, and the palliative care provided by HospiceWits can be summarised as:

– Offering a support system that helps patients live as actively as possible until death.
– Affirming life and regarding dying as a normal process,
– Intending to neither hasten nor postpone death,

Ideally, palliative care should be a part of the treatment plan for patients with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions from the time of diagnosis, in conjunction with any treatment intended to prolong life.

This is not the case for many patients, as curative active aggressive intent with regards to treatment often takes preference over an approach that makes palliative care a part of the treatment plan from the very beginning, and not only when patients are in the last part of their lives.

What does the care provided by HospiceWits entail?

HospiceWits aims to help patients who are facing health challenges to manage and live life to the fullest, free of pain and anxiety, while supporting their families and loved ones. We respect the dignity of patients and their families, and provide support and guidance through an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to the provision of palliative care.

When patients register to receive palliative care from HospiceWits, a trained home care sister visits them in their homes or at the hospital to do a comprehensive assessment of their condition, based on the referral from the doctor who is treating them.

While hospice physicians and home care nurses work with the doctors and specialists treating a patient, the intention is not to replace them, but rather to provide additional support to the patient and their family, also with regards to their psychosocial wellbeing. This is provided by trained members of the HospiceWits psychosocial support team, consisting of counsellors, spiritual counsellors and social workers.

A home care sister’s account

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of patients and nursing sisters.

“We’re now on our way to visit a new, elderly patient, Mrs Patel*. Her family is very concerned about her – she’s bedridden and has several health and joint problems, including severe rheumatoid arthritis. A domestic worker takes care of the 84-year-old, but one of her daughters lives close by and spends a large part of every day with her.

“Sister Ingrid* takes a careful and detailed history, after which she addresses the patient, speaking slowly and clearly to the hard-of-hearing little lady tucked up in bed. After first checking her vital signs and then her back for bedsores, Sister recommends they employ an experienced day nurse to assist in turning the patient more frequently, and to give the family some respite from the physically demanding aspect of caring for their mother.

“Mrs Patel has seven children, and they will share the cost of employing a nurse. A phone call is made, and Sister tells the family the nurse will arrive at 08:00 the following day. Sister Ingrid also suspects the lady has had a few small minor strokes, and tells the family she will arrange for the HospiceWits doctor to do a home visit. One of her sons arrives before we leave, and the siblings seem so grateful and relieved that HospiceWits will visit frequently and advise on the best treatment for their much-loved mother.”

What patients’ families say

“You welcomed our father and family into your fold. We were treated with respect and a quiet dignity. There really are angels amongst us, we salute and applaud you. ”

“To the wonderful staff at HospiceWits, thank you for treating my mother so gently and with dignity, as a person rather than just a patient. Dr Craig’s time with us as a family to explain everything was invaluable, and helped us to feel at peace, knowing she was getting the best possible care and was not going to be in pain. We had not had such care from any doctor in the week prior, and I can only be thankful that Mom’s final care was so good. We felt so supported and welcomed by the entire team.”

“The assistance that HospiceWits rendered, both at Dad’s home and in your In-Patient Unit, was absolutely exceptional. I cannot thank you enough for all your support, care and kindness. Your staff was magnificent.”

“We would like to express our thanks and gratitude for all the love, care and support that you gave to her. The magnitude of gratitude that we feel cannot be explained. You gave her the quality of life with the dignity and independence that she was determined to have. You gave her children the ability to have the very best of their mother for as long as possible. We all feel truly blessed that you were chosen to travel this journey with us, and we know just how much that meant to her – she truly loved you. Thank you, Dr Craig, for your attendance, endless support and forever availability to care for her and help make her as comfortable and pain-free as possible.”

Find treasures and make an invaluable contribution at HospiceWits shops

How often have you popped into a charity shop with the intention of just “quickly looking around”, only to leave an hour later with a few books, a new lamp for the lounge and something for the kids in tow?

HospiceWits’s charity shops are truly treasure troves, where those with a keen eye and some time to kill are bound to walk away with something precious in their bag. Our three shops, located in different parts of Johannesburg for your convenience, are filled to the brim with something that you’ll love! Visit the Rosebank Flea Market every Sunday to continue finding a bargain at our market stall.

HospiceWits shops form a key part of this NGO’s fundraising efforts, collecting much needed reserves to finance the work done with patients who are experiencing the last part of their journey of life. Stocking a wide collection of miscellaneous goods, ranging from household appliances to great second-hand books, HospiceWits shops are also the economical option for our customers who often find just what they’re looking for at a price they wouldn’t find anywhere else. Are you an avid thrift shopper? You’ll find wonderful vintage threads in any of the HospiceWits shops.

How to help

Aside from supporting HospiceWits’s fundraising efforts by purchasing items from our shops, we also greatly appreciate any donations received that ensure our shelves are always fully stocked.

HospiceWits accepts donations of just about any kind, and we are able to collect donations (please send an email to info@hospicewits.co.za or to any of our branches below in this regard) if you aren’t able to drop them off yourself.

If you’d like to support our shops by way of service, we are always elated when volunteers make contact to offer their time. This may be by helping to sort and price goods, delivering or collecting donations, or even helping as a salesperson in any of our shops (take note that shop volunteers usually work one morning or afternoon a week).

When purchasing an item, making a donation, or offering your time as a HospiceWits volunteer, you are making a tangible difference in the lives of the many terminal patients currently receiving end-of-life care from HospiceWits. We are most grateful for all of these contributions, more than words can express.

Please visit any of our HospiceWits shops in Johannesburg today:

Parkmore

Location: Corner of 11th Street and Elizabeth Avenue
Contact number: 011 883 7242
Email address: parkmore@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours
Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 08:00 – 14:00

Orange Grove

Location: 199 Louis Botha Avenue
Contact number: 011 728 1052
Email address: depot@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours
Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 09:00 – 14:00

Kensington

Location: 163 Queen Street
Contact number: 011 615 3343
Email address: kensington@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours
Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 14:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 09:00 – 14:00

Rosebank Flea Market

Location: Rosebank Mall, 15A Cradock Avenue
Contact number: 011 728 1052
Email address: shops@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours
Sunday: 08:00 – 16:00

Donate a virtual globe for the greater good through the HospiceWits Tree of Light

The annual HospiceWits tree-lighting ceremony at the Johannesburg Zoo has become a literal highlight on this charity’s calendar. Hundreds of people gather every year to see the sponsored globes being switched on, and in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak, this much cherished tradition takes on a different form this year, while still giving HospiceWits supporters a chance to remember their loved ones by purchasing a Tree of Light 2020 globe.

This year, HospiceWits invites our loyal supporters to buy a virtual remembrance globe in celebration of a loved one, which will then be added to our virtual Tree of Light. This allows donors to spread the light even further, as they share their dedicated message with colleagues, friends and family via their social media platform of choice.

How it works

If you are interested in purchasing a globe to be placed on the virtual HospiceWits Tree of Light to celebrate a loved one, you simply need to visit the HospiceWits Tree of Light website. From here, you will be able to choose between seven different donation options:

• Individual globe: R100
• Corporate globe: R350
• Halo of light: R1750
• Orb: R3500
• Branch: R5250
• Bright star: R7000
• String: R15 000

You will be able to pick the colour of your virtual globe and personalise it with a message or dedication to a loved one. Honour the life of someone who has already passed, or celebrate the lives of those who are dear to your heart now.

Honour the heroes in your life

Do you know a health worker that you’d like to honour for their immense contribution during the pandemic, or is there an essential services worker in your life who has worked without ceasing to ensure that the wheels of industry kept on turning despite the challenges posed by Covid-19? There is no better way to pay tribute to the exemplary people in our lives than to salute them with a virtual globe on the HospiceWits Tree of Light.

Every donation collected goes towards funding the important work HospiceWits does throughout the year, whatever the circumstances.

Even when times seem dark, the HospiceWits tree-lighting ceremony remains a beacon of hope, strength and celebration of life. Donate to customise your globe on the virtual Tree of Light today, and keep an eye on the HospiceWits Facebook page for the latest news about this campaign.

The role of the family during end-of-life care

Caring for a loved one during the final stages of their life may be an exceptionally challenging experience for the patient’s family and close friends. While palliative care, like the service provided by HospiceWits, certainly helps to make that load a little lighter, the people close to the terminally ill person often wonder how they can contribute.

The involvement of the family is especially important in the context of end-of-life care, and there are definitely ways in which those close to the patient can assist the HospiceWits interdisciplinary team. The most important way in which they can help is simply by being there for their loved one who is experiencing the last part of their lives.

Firstly, the family plays an important part when the team from HospiceWits draws up a patient care plan, as they are able to assist in creating a plan that is in accordance with their loved one’s wishes, and takes all their needs into consideration. Family members are unique contributors in this sense, because they probably have the clearest understanding of just what their loved one wants and needs at this time of their life.

As soon as the way forward has been established, the next of kin need not worry about the medical and psychosocial aspects of their family member’s end-of-life care, as this is undertaken by a highly qualified and experienced team. The family should continually update the care team about the patient’s condition.

With this being said, the siblings, parents or children of the person who is receiving palliative care are essential with regard to supporting their loved one as they reach the end of their life, even if that patient seems unresponsive. By giving and receiving love and reassurance on this last journey, terminally ill patients are assured of the impact and contribution they have made for others over the course of their life. For many patients receiving palliative care, this is something they really want to know as they reflect on their days spent on earth.

Family members can reaffirm their love for the patient by paying regular visits, sharing special memories, holding their hand, providing a comforting touch, and lending a listening ear.

When the patient passes away, the psychosocial support team – who will have been assisting both the patient and their family with mental care services – will provide grief, loss and bereavement counselling to their loved ones, helping them to grieve in a way that still recognises the important part their late loved one played, and celebrates their life.

HospiceWits’ specialist psychosocial team, dubbed Sihlangene (which means “we stand together” in isiZulu), consists of a qualified general practitioner with a postgraduate specialist qualification in palliative medicine, a psychiatric nurse specialist and a diverse group of counsellors hailing from various training backgrounds and with varied experience, together with experienced frontline workers, management and coordinators. Sihlangene’s services utilise a variety of methodology and approaches, and offer one-on-one counselling or family meetings at its offices, online remote counselling via Skype or Zoom as well as telephonic and WhatsApp support.

Click here to find out more.

This is what HospiceWits’ interdisciplinary team does

HospiceWits provides care and support through a holistic, interdisciplinary team approach, with the provision of palliative care for all in need.
The interdisciplinary team provides a complementary approach to palliative care, supporting not only the patient, but also extending a hand to their family and other loved ones.

The team consists of a doctor, nurses, social worker and other counsellors. We also facilitate specific denominational spiritual care, should it be requested, as well as the services of other health professionals like physiotherapists to assist with specific patient needs.

The following is a breakdown of the roles of each team member:

Physicians or General Practitioners

The Physician/GP oversees the medical care of the patient, and communicates with the family and the rest of the care team regarding the patient’s medical condition. They provide treatment recommendations and assess the benefits and side effects of their medication. The Doctor is responsible for prescribing medication and other forms of treatment.

Nurses

Nurses administer medical care to patients according to the recommendations made by the Doctor. They offer direct care to the patient and often serve in a supervisory role with regard to nursing assistants and other members of the care team. The nurses also update the family about the patient’s condition.

Nursing assistants

Nursing assistants help with other aspects related to the care of the patient, and provide personal care like feeding, bathing and assisting with ablutions. They also monitor the patient’s vital signs, regularly checking their pulse, temperature and blood pressure, and provide this information to the Nurses. Home-based care Nurses provide care to patients in the comfort of their own homes, under the supervision of the Doctor.

Social Workers and Counsellors

Psychosocial care plays an important role in palliative care. Social Workers and trained Counsellors are indispensable in this regard, and help to relieve emotional distress through specifically tailored counselling methods.

The HospiceWits In-patient Unit

HospiceWits’ In-patient Unit in Houghton provides a home-from-home environment for patients in need of short-term, specialised palliative management and symptom control.

Dr Craig Howes oversees patient care in the Unit, and he is capably assisted by a team of compassionate and caring registered and auxiliary nurses. As an experienced palliative care doctor, Craig’s gentle nature is perfectly suited to his role. Caring and empathetic, the talented doctor is a good listener who speaks the patient’s language, and spends as much time as is necessary with patients, their families and staff in the Unit.

The daily routine includes a ward round with Dr Craig and the sisters on duty. The condition of each patient is carefully assessed from engagement with and feedback received from the entire interdisciplinary team, as well as the family. We see families as extensions of the patients, and they are welcome to be with their loved ones as much as they want to. The Unit offers a comfortable lounge with kitchen facilities for family members where they are welcome to make a cup of tea or coffee and heat up a snack to enjoy when they need a break. A family member is also able to spend the night with their loved one, should they wish to do so.

During the course of each day, Dr Craig will make decisions about the best possible care for each patient. He meets with each family every few days to discuss the condition of their loved one, and makes suggestions for future care. These meetings also provide an excellent opportunity for the doctor to counsel the family.

The focus of hospice care is not purely physical. It incorporates medical, psychological, spiritual, emotional and cultural needs. Besides Dr Craig and the registered nurses who counsel patients and assist grieving families daily, we are fortunate to have a number of very special, trained counsellors and social workers, who give of their time voluntarily to provide comfort and support for those who are not coping with the reality of their situation. A few of our counsellors have had their own personal experience with hospice and have a strong desire to give something back for what they received in their time of need.

HospiceWits also facilitates specific denominational spiritual care, should it be requested, as well as the services of other health professionals, like physiotherapists to assist with specific patient needs.

Our registered nurses are responsible for, among other things, the general nursing care, assessing the condition of each patient hourly (or more), as well as the administration of medication. The auxiliary nurses work as a team and tend to patients together. Their responsibilities include feeding, bathing, changing, toilet assistance, dressings, mouth care and being with confused patients to ensure they do not injure themselves. They are constantly ensuring patients are as comfortable as possible, and that their every need is met.

The people that make up the HospiceWits interdisciplinary team are committed to providing dedicated support and assistance to patients and their families. Years of experience have taught each member of our care team how to provide exemplary service that takes the specific needs of each patient into account.

To learn more about our palliative care approach, click here.

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.