‘Hospice’ is often a word that people shy away from, or that brings about a look of horror when it is mentioned. Many people believe it denotes a sense of fear and darkness, and that there is only one reason why an individual would visit a hospice.
Here at St Catherine’s, we believe the above couldn’t be further from the truth. In this blog, we look at eight of the most common myths about hospices and end of life care, and discuss what really goes on behind the doors of St Catherine’s.
MYTH – ST CATHERINE’S HOSPICE IS FULLY FUNDED BY THE NHS
TRUTH – St Catherine’s is a charity and it costs us around £10m per year to run our services, giving free care and support to local people at the most difficult time of their lives.
Less than a third of our funding comes from the NHS, and the rest is raised by our fantastic local community – people like you. These funds are raised through a variety of ways including general fundraising such as donations and events, legacies, our lottery and through our hospice shops
MYTH – A HOSPICE IS WHERE YOU GO TO DIE.
TRUTH – Whilst the care delivered by St Catherine’s is palliative – meaning given to the terminally ill and their families– not everyone who is cared for by us is at the end of life. There are many different reasons why someone may be under our care: to ensure that their final days are as comfortable as possible; to manage their pain; as respite for their carer; or to meet other people who are also living with a terminal illness and to share their experiences. It is important to remember that hospices are for the living, and that the work we do here is to ensure that each and every one of our patients has the best possible quality of life, and that those closest to them are also cared for.
MYTH – HOSPICE IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR A HOSPITAL OR CARE HOME.
TRUTH – A hospice provides some elements of care similar to a hospital or care home, plus much, much more. We have doctors and nurses to deliver expert clinical care to our patients, but we also have occupational therapists, a patient and family support team, Day Hospice staff, physiotherapists, art and complementary therapists, kitchen staff, support service teams and more than 1,000 volunteers – all of whom are pivotal to the standard of care and support that is delivered here at St Catherine’s.
As well as this, St Catherine’s is also described by many of our patients and their families as a warm, friendly, homely place that couldn’t feel further from a hospital environment. There are no set visiting hours here, and we’re able to offer private and family rooms where needed. What’s more, all of the care our clinical team deliver at St Catherine’s is completely tailored to each patient’s specific needs.
MYTH – HOSPICE CARE IS ONLY FOR CANCER PATIENTS.
TRUTH – Whilst many of our patients do have cancer, we also provide support for patients living with other progressive and terminal illnesses such as Motor Neurone Disease or heart failure. In fact, last year, 30% of the people we cared for had a diagnosis other than cancer.
What’s more, we have a dedicated Lymphoedema clinic here at the hospice, with an expert team available to offer specialised care and treatment for those suffering with the condition.
MYTH – HOSPICE CARE IS JUST ABOUT HELPING PEOPLE RELIEVE PAIN AND OTHER PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS.
TRUTH – One strand of our work is to manage patients’ physical symptoms and pain, but there are many other aspects involved in hospice care, and we work with each individual to help them with the things that matter most to them. We can help our patients enjoy their favourite meal or a tipple from our famous drinks trolley; we can assist with emotional, welfare and spiritual support; our team can even help arrange and celebrate a special occasion such as a birthday or wedding. Our team have also been known to enable those we care for to do something they love with those closest to them, such as visiting the beach, watching the Wimbledon final or enjoying a spot of gardening. Whatever it is that our patients need, we do our best to ensure we can provide it.
MYTH – IF I CHOOSE HOSPICE CARE, I HAVE TO LEAVE MY HOME.
TRUTH – This couldn’t actually be further from the truth. Last year, 80% of our patients were cared for in the comfort of their own home, thanks to our incredible team of community nurses. It is important to us that we listen to the wishes of each individual, so if a patient wishes to remain at home, we will work with them and their family to make this possible.
MYTH – ONLY THE PERSON WHO IS ILL CAN BENEFIT FROM HOSPICE CARE.
TRUTH – We have a wide team of professionals who are here to support not only our patients, but their loved ones too. We understand the huge impact a life-limiting illness can have on those close to the person who we are caring for, so our care doesn’t end with the patient.
We can provide counselling, welfare support and respite care, as well as extensive support for families and children during, and following, bereavement. We also hold remembrance events a few times a year, offering relatives and friends a place to go and remember their loved one.
MYTH – A HOSPICE MUST BE A TERRIBLE, SAD PLACE TO WORK
TRUTH – This couldn’t be further from the truth and each and every one of us at St Catherine’s is so proud to get to spend our days here. It is rare to walk through the hospice without seeing a smile or hearing laughter, and whilst there are inevitably sad occasions and moments, the good times far outweigh those. We do everything we can to ensure that our patients, and their family and friends, enjoy their time here – and we feel so honoured to be able to share so many special moments with those who make our work such a joy.