List Of Illnesses / FAQ

These illnesses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Cancer

  • Progressive Neurological Disorders

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

  • End-stage Cardiac, Renal, Respiratory or Hepatic Disorders

  • Coronary Artery Disease, Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Stroke=

  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

  • Cirrhosis

  • Children With Chronic Disorders

  • Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

What is Palliative Care?

WHO definition of Palliative Care: Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with a life-threatening illness (such as Cancer, AIDS, Advanced Neurological Illness or End-Stage Organ Failure), through the prevention and relief of suffering, by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

Is Palliative Care right for me?

Yes, if you:

  • Have a disease or injury that cannot be cured
  • Have made multiple trips to the emergency room in the past 6 months
  • Have pain or other symptoms that interfere with your daily activities
  • Need assistance with setting your goals of care and treatment preferences

When should you consider hospice/palliative care for your loved one?

Hospice/Palliative care is beneficial right from the time of diagnosis. The sooner the patient registers on the Palliative Programme, the better for the patient and family. Many patients only register in the terminal phase for pain and symptom management, but the holistic patient care plan offers so much more to both the patient and the family.

Is Palliative Care available for children?

Yes! Palliative Care services are available for children

Where do I go to receive Palliative Care services?

HospiceWits operates within the Johannesburg Metropolitan and Soweto areas. To find a hospice in your area, you may visit www.hpca.co.za.

Can I receive Palliative Care outside the hospital after I am discharged?

Yes, the majority of our care takes place in the comfort of the patient’s home. Once a patient has registered on the home care programme, a registered nurse will visit the patient on a regular basis. A full assessment is performed and a comprehensive care plan is developed according to the patient’s needs.

Will I have a new doctor if I use Palliative Care?

The HospiceWits Interdisciplinary Team (nurses, doctors and counsellors) work in conjunction with any healthcare provider you may already have. Palliative Care providers do not replace any curative treatment the patient may have already consulted, it seeks to enhance the quality of life for the patient.

Are Palliative Care services covered by medical aid?

Yes, most medical aids/schemes offer benefits for palliative/hospice care. For more information, please ask your service provider.

Does receiving Palliative Care mean that I am dying or giving up?

No! Palliative Care began in the 1980s under the premise that all patients with chronic diseases should receive proper symptom management regardless of the stage of their disease.

Does receiving Palliative Care mean that I will die sooner?

No! Studies have shown that patients with appropriate pain and symptom management often live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than those without.

Can I still pursue active treatment of my illness (i.e. hemodialysis, chemotherapy, radiation) if I do Palliative Care?

Absolutely, Palliative Care will follow you through all stages of your illness and treatment, and is most beneficial when started early in your disease process.

What kinds of symptoms does the Palliative Care team treat?

Other than pain, the Palliative Care team may treat symptoms including:

  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hiccups
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression, hopelessness, and isolation
  • Anticipatory grief and bereavement
  • Any other symptoms arising from your disease or treatment

What if I have side effects from my medication?

Most side effects from pain medications, including drowsiness and dizziness will subside after 1 to 2 days. If side effects persist or are extremely bothersome, your Palliative Care team can make adjustments to your medications as needed.

Will I become addicted to pain medication?

  • Addiction is compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences and is characterized by an inability to stop using a drug, failure to meet obligations, and sometimes tolerance and withdrawal.
  • Patients who take medications for the purpose of pain control very rarely become addicted. However, patients may develop tolerance to medications and require more to achieve a certain effect. This is different than addiction, and is an expected response to the medication.
  • Pseudoaddiction is a collection of behaviors that resemble addiction or “drug seeking” behaviors. However, in pseudoaddiction these behaviors occur because of unrelieved pain, and they disappear when pain is effectively managed.

What happens after my loved one dies?

HospiceWits continue to offer bereavement support and counselling to the family for as long as it is needed.

To view all the common myths regarding palliative care and life-limiting illness, click here to download the PDF

MYTH: Palliative Care hastens death.

Fact: Palliative Care does not hasten death. It provides comfort and the best quality of life from diagnosis of an advanced illness until end of life.

MYTH: Palliative Care is only for people dying of cancer.

Fact: Palliative Care can benefit patients and their families from the time of diagnosis of any illness that may shorten life.

MYTH: Palliative Care is only provided in a hospital.

Fact: Palliative Care can be provided wherever the patient lives – home, long-term care facility, hospice or hospital.

MYTH: We need to protect children from being exposed to death and dying.

Fact: Allowing children to talk about death and dying can help them develop healthy attitudes that can benefit them as adults. Like adults, children also need time to say goodbye to people who are important to them.

MYTH: Pain is a part of dying.

Fact: Pain is not always a part of dying. If pain is experienced near end of life, there are many ways it can be alleviated.

MYTH: Taking pain medications in Palliative Care leads to addiction.

Fact: Keeping people comfortable often requires increased doses of pain medication. This is a result of tolerance to medication as the body adjusts, not addiction.

MYTH: Morphine is administered to hasten death.

Fact: Appropriate doses of morphine keep patients comfortable but do not hasten death

MYTH: Palliative Care means my doctor has given up and there is no hope for me.

Fact: Palliative Care ensures the best quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with an advanced illness. Hope becomes less about cure and more about living life as fully as possible.

MYTH: I’ve let my family member down because he/she didn’t die at home.

Fact: Sometimes the needs of the patient exceed what can be provided at home despite best efforts. Ensuring that the best care is delivered, regardless of setting, is not a failure.