Historically, hospices were places of rest and recovery for weary travellers.
In modern times, hospices have become centres for the provision of specialist palliative care. Most hospices provide a range of services including in-patient care, Day Hospice, Hospice at Home, bereavement services, spiritual services and, in some cases, departments of education, training and research. Staff include doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, counsellors, chaplains, patient and family care specialists, complementary therapists, ancillary staff and volunteers.
Much of the care is provided at home by highly trained Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) who work closely with other members of the hospice and community team. In this way, many people with advanced illnesses can be cared for at home throughout.
The commonest reason for admission to the hospice is to deal with problems that are not settling satisfactorily at home. People come for a week or two in order that any difficulties can be addressed and resolved where possible.
The atmosphere is friendly and homely with a pervading sense of hope, realism and calm.
Many will return home with any necessary extra care arranged. Occasionally, if people aren’t strong enough to be cared for at home, they may transfer to a local nursing home where their progress continues to be monitored by their CNS.
Other reasons for admission include respite to give families and carers a much needed break, transfer from hospital for assessment and sometimes at the very end of life if it is not possible to provide enough care at home.