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The Help Of A Hospice In Caring For The Terminally Ill

By: Judith Cameron - Updated: 27 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
The Help Of A Hospice In Caring For The Terminally Ill

The first hospices, back in the 4th Century, were resting places for travellers. Much later, in the 19th Century, hospices were places run by religious orders where people went to die. The modern hospice movement is based on accepting that death is part of the cycle of life. But they also offer respite care and counselling to victims of terminal illness and their families. Since the first hospice run on this principal, St Christopher's of London, opened in 1967 the movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon with many hundreds of hospices now open throughout Europe and elsewhere.

The Principles Behind a Hospice

Palliative care is the mainstay of hospice care. Unlike other forms of medical treatment, palliative care does not aim to cure an illness, but instead to reduce its symptoms and improve the quality of life of people suffering from a terminal illness and those close to them; the medical team in a hospice tries to alleviate pain and distress for the patient and their family. It is a holistic approach, offering help with all of a seriously ill person's needs, both emotional and physical. Hospices care for adults and children and are often associated with terminal care for cancer victims although they are increasingly used by sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neuron Disease and other neurological, life threatening diseases.

What can a Hospice offer?

Even with all of modern medicine's capabilities, many people still face death in pain and distress. A hospice team will make efforts to relieve pain and give a person dignity and peace as they approach the end of their life. They look after the person who is near death and their loved ones in the calm surroundings of the hospice either as an in-patient or through day care. They also provide specialist home care through Macmillan or Marie Curie nurses. Many different services can be offered including pain control, specialist nursing, physiotherapy, spiritual support and bereavement counselling. They recognise that everyone is an individual with personal cares and worries that need to be addressed. Hospices aim to provide relief from terminal illness to people from all religious and cultures and although some are run on Christian principles, they welcome patients of all faiths.

Will my Loved One Die in the Hospice?

This will be the choice of you and the person you care for. Although many people do choose for their last days to be spent in the tranquility and care of a hospice, almost half of people who spend time in a hospice do go home again. The decision of where to die is personal and something that will need to be discussed with your loved one. However if you wish, a hospice counselor with experience on such sensitive issues, can be on hand for advice.

How do I find a Hospice near me?

If your loved one has a terminal illness, your doctor can make a referral to a local hospice. Usually, there will be a home visit to assess the situation and discuss your loved one's future needs.

What Costs Are Involved With Hospice Care?

Hospice care is free of charge. Most hospices have charitable status and rely on donations to continue to offer their services.

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