1. What is Hospice?
Hospice offers comprehensive programs to patients and families facing life-threatening illness. Hospice, also known as palliative care, is a concept of care rather than a specific place of care. Hospice may therefore be given in the patient’s home, in an independent in-patient hospice, in a hospice day care centre, in a palliative care clinic, or in the ward of a hospital.
Hospice is about “caring and loving”. It emphasizes the importance of quality of life. The focus is on providing relief of pain and other distressing symptoms, as well as ensuring emotional, spiritual and practical support for the patient and the family. Care is given by a multi-disciplinary team that includes nurses, doctors, social workers, religious counselors and trained volunteers.
Most patients are cared for at home. Hospice nurses and doctors visit regularly to give advice about medications and nursing care. Patients who attend hospice day care centres travel to the day care centre to participate in activities there during the day.
In-patient care is provided for those who do not have families to care for them at home, or who need special nursing or medical treatment.
Most of these services are funded by public donations with subsidies from the government.
2. Specially-designed to help patients and their families in a unique way
The issues and problems relating to life-limiting illnesses are very different from those relating to normal illnesses. So, when afflicted patients are not responding to curative treatments, their pain and discomfort need to be eased using other techniques which focus not just on the disease process, but also on the whole person and families.
Hospice and palliative care helps relieve patients’ pain and other unpleasant symptoms, and provides them with psychological and spiritual support where needed. It also advises and supports family members to help them cope as well as become more confident and effective caregivers during this difficult time. Its team of caregivers works with patients and their families to ensure the patient's comfort and dignity, thus helping to maintain the highest possible quality of life for the time that remains.
3. Team of caregivers share family members’ caregiving responsibilities
Caring for a dying patient can be physically and emotionally draining. Putting such responsibilities on one or more family members who are not trained to manage the patient can cause undue stress to the patient and his family.
The hospice and palliative team caregivers comprise of trained and experienced professionals. With the team supporting the primary caregiver, the patients’ family can better manage their lives, and ensure quality care for and better time with the patient.
4. Flexibility to choose preferred level of support
Hospice and palliative care can be provided as a support to the primary caregiver (home care / day care) or full-time (in-patient care). These different levels of support cater to any situation, be it one where family members wish to provide most of the caregiving and need only assistance from professional expertise, or one where no family member is regularly available at all times to care for the patient.
Regardless of the chosen level of support, hospice and palliative care is available and is just a phone call away.
5. Bereavement support for grieving family members
Dealing with the loss or potential loss of a loved one is difficult. It is often hard to find sound advice and positive encouragement among grieving family and friends during such trying times. Hospice and palliative team of caregivers and volunteers can provide moral support in these circumstances and help ease the pain of the grieving process. Hospice care focuses not just on the patient, but also on supporting the patient's family.