What is hospice care?

What is hospice care?

If you have been advised that you need hospice care, it can be an anxious and confusing time. It’s only natural that you’re likely to have lots of questions. That’s why we’ve written this blog to help provide you with some answers.

What is hospice care?

Hospices provide specialist care for people who need their help to continue to live well following diagnosis of a terminal illness, and – when the time comes – to ensure they can die with dignity in the place that’s right for them.

Hospices give not only medical care, including pain management and advice about your condition, but emotional and practical support, too.

Hospice care has no time limit. Some patients may be supported at home by a hospice for many years while still living their day-to-day lives. The service also extends from care at home to those in hospital settings and care homes, as well as to people whose complex symptoms and/or circumstances mean they require extra support in a specialised hospice building.

Central to hospice care is respect and compassion for patients, maintaining their dignity and helping them to fulfil their wishes at end of life, which could include where they wish to die and what they want their funeral to be like.

At St Luke’s, we provide high-calibre medical, emotional, social and practical care and support. This is often referred to as ‘holistic care’ because it is comprehensive, treating the person rather than just focussing their condition. Our package of care includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, practical advice, bereavement support and much more.

Who is hospice care for?

Hospice care is for anyone with a terminal illness, so not only people with cancer but also those with conditions such as motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, heart failure and Parkinson’s disease, and other life-limiting illnesses.

Hospice staff are experts in handling complex symptoms. They not only look after the elderly but any adult or child who needs them, providing specialist care and support at any stage following a terminal diagnosis, not just close to the very end of life. Here at St Luke’s, we look after adults and also provide specialist support for children of patients.

Hospice care extends to the family of a patient so that they receive the emotional and practical support they need before their loved one dies and then bereavement support following their passing.

Where is hospice care provided?

Hospices aim to keep patients at the centre of decisions surrounding their own end of life care. With this in mind, patients are looked after in the place of their choice.

There are some exceptions where this cannot be facilitated though, due to factors such as complex symptom management or becoming to poorly to travel to a preferred location.

The three main sites for St Luke’s hospice care are at home, at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (Derriford) and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

St Luke’s at home

Most of the care given by St Luke’s is in patients’ own homes because we understand how much it means to people to remain in their familiar surroundings close to loved ones, including pets.

Our community team communicates with patients to arrange regular visits and catch-ups to review how the patient is feeling and determine any additional support required. They are also at the end of the phone for any queries or concerns. Our Urgent Care Service steps in outside of these times to ensure patients remain free of any discomfort or pain and to avoid any avoidable re-admissions to hospital.

St Luke’s at Derriford

Some hospices, including ours, have hospice teams based at their local hospital for patients who have been admitted and are approaching end of life.

Working alongside the hospital doctors and nurses, they offer specialist advice on complex symptoms and provide emotional support for patients, their family and carers. The team is also heavily involved in delivering education in end of life care to nursing and medical staff across the hospital.

The team ensures a patient’s care is well co-ordinated and that they have access to all the information and advice they need, during or after treatment.

Our specialist unit

There are many reasons that a patient could be admitted to our inpatient unit at Turnchapel. It could be the person’s preferred place of death or it could be because of the need for intensive support for complex symptom management. Not all patients are easily cared for in their home so a hospice building may be the most suitable place of care.

Some patients are brought into our specialist unit for a short period. It can be the best place to monitor how they are, amend their medications and manage pain before we discharge them to go home with the appropriate support. It is also a place where patients’ friends and family can spend time with them, making the most of the time they have left together.

Getting in touch

Whenever you need St Luke’s, we are here for you, ready to listen and get to know you so that we can give you and your loved ones the best possible care and support.

Contact us here.

Image from Craig's run and an image of Craig with his Father
Completing a half marathon, 10K or 5K can mean so much more than a fitness challenge and you runners do a fantastic job of keeping St Luke’s close to your hearts. It makes us beam with pride when we see you clocking up the miles sporting our charity’s name across your chest. Collectively this year’s runners  have raised over £14,000 and still counting. That’s enough to provide a full package of care including bereavement support for over 14 families at home.

For kind-hearted runner Craig from Hartley Vale in Plymouth, it was a run to remember in more ways than one. It was a way to say thank you for the care that his father and mother-in-law received in their final days, both at home and in our specialist unit at Turnchapel.
With the help of his supportive friends and family, he was able to take on the challenge motivated by his precious memories of those he had lost and the St Luke’s nurses who made a difference in those final days.
Make your next run matter, run for St Luke’s. Whether it’s the Ocean City Half Marathon, the Plymouth 10k, the South West Coastal Path, Coast to Coast, the London Marathon or even the Marathon De Sable in the Sahara Desert, your amazing efforts will make all the difference to our vital patient care. Click here for information.
You can support Craig via his Just Giving page.