Any person, of any age, who has a life-limiting condition qualifies for palliative care. This includes many different types of illnesses, the most common of which are cancers and AIDS. This special type of care is for patients and their families. For more info see What is Palliative Care?”.
Bear in mind that different hospices may have slightly different admission criteria depending on their resources and limitations (geographical distances, staff available, etc). However, all hospices are committed to see that your palliative care needs are met. Most importantly, the patient himself/herself must consent to joining a hospice programme. He or she is central in all the decisions that will be made.
HOW TO JOIN A HOSPICE PROGRAMME
Anyone may refer a patient to hospice - a friend, neighbour, family member or even the patient themselves. The hospice nurses will then go and visit the patient to do an assessment to see if the patient is in need of palliative care. A patient may also be admitted if they have a direct referral from a health care professional (a doctor or a nurse). For more info see 'Find a Hospice'.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Should the patient be accepted onto a hospice programme, the hospice team together with the patient will develop a tailor-made plan of care (or care plan). Usually patients are visited by the hospice staff in their own homes. The care and support of the hospice team will help the patient and family as they navigate their way through the challenges of living with a life-limiting condition.
The main things hospice can help with are:
- pain and symptom control
- psycho-social support and advise
- spiritual support
- emotional support
- bereavement support
- equipment (wheelchairs etc)
Many patients choose to go off a hospice programme once they feel better, especially if their pain and symptoms are under control or they are managing well on ARV's (they may re-enter at any time).
Bereavement support is a very important part of palliative care. After a patient has passed away, the hospice team grieves with the family and friends. They will continue to provide support to the loved ones until such time as the support is no longer needed.