A hospice isn't a place: it's a philosophy of care that values each individual and helps them put life into their days rather than days onto their lives. Hospices care for families, not just patients, and their care enhances the quality of life and dignity in death. Hospices respond to personal preferences and needs with dignity, respect and compassion. They deliver high quality, holistic care and they aim to be at the heart of the communities they serve, caring for people affected by death and dying.
Hospices are specialist units which provide care and support for people with illnesses that cannot be cured, including cancer, respiratory and heart conditions and neurological diseases. They are usually run by independent charities (although there are some NHS Hospices) and provide specialist palliative care free of charge to people in their local communities.
Hospice care is provided wherever it is needed, and this may be within the hospice itself but many hospices also support patients in their own homes, in their local NHS hospitals, in care homes and community hospital settings. Care is also extended to families and carers.
Many hospice patients remain at home and are offered a full range of community services and day hospice activities. Hospices usually have inpatient beds providing care to patients who come in for symptom control and are then discharged home. They also provide end of life care.
As well as providing medical and nursing care, hospices offer a range of services including complementary therapy, counselling, and spiritual care. Care does not end when the patient has died and bereavement support is available for families.
Each hospice has developed independently to meet their local needs and so there is some variation in the specific services they provide. You can find out more about your local hospice from your community nurse or other health professional involved in your care. More information about your nearest hospice can be found on the Help the Hospices website and your local hospice will have its own website.