What is a Hospice

Hospice is not a place but a ‘philosophy of care’ for people facing a life-limiting illness. It addresses a patient’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs, and also helps support those who love them.

A common misconception about hospice is that it is ‘a last resort’ and that a person must be bedridden or unable to communicate in order to receive help. On the contrary, seeking hospice and palliative care (pain and symptom relief) isn’t about giving up or hastening death. Rather, it is a way to get the most appropriate care in the last phase of life. Enrolling for hospice care early might help you or your loved one develop a strong relationship with the hospice staff, who can help with preparation for end-of-life needs.

While hope for a full recovery may be gone, there is still hope for as much quality time as possible to spend with loved ones, as well as hope for a dignified, pain-free death.

Hospice cares for the dying because they are still living.

Hospice care…

  • Focuses on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure.
  • Affirms life and views death as a natural process – it seeks neither to speed up the dying process nor postpone it.
  • Concentrates on managing a patient’s pain and other symptoms so that the patient may live as comfortably as possible and make the most of the time that remains.
  • Is provided by a team of doctors, professional nurses, therapists, social workers, spiritual counsellors and volunteers.
  • Is taken to patients wherever they are – at home, residential care, frail care or in-area hospitals.
  • Is for anyone, of any age, with any type of life-limiting illness.
  • Provides counselling, respite care and practical support for patients’ families and caregivers.
Fact: Research published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that terminally-ill patients who received hospice care lived, on average, 29 days longer than those who did not opt for hospice near the end of life. Source: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

Hospices are the only facilities in South Africa providing palliative care as defined by the World Health Organisation.

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