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We know that you and your family or carers probably have a lot of questions. We have listed below some of the more common questions we get asked but please just contact us if you have anything else to ask. We care for people from all backgrounds and cultures and want to make it as easy as possible for those who need help to find it.

What is a hospice?

Simply put, hospice is about choosing life. It’s about believing that every moment, of every hour, of every day matters and what matters to you matters to us.

Hospice teams work with existing doctors and nursing staff to care for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of both the patient and their family and loved ones. However, our goal is unique compared to traditional restorative care. We focus on palliation and caring, rather than curing, and we do whatever it takes to help patients and loved ones face the journey ahead with clarity and dignity. Hospice services range from pain management to a host of alternative therapies, and these services can be implemented wherever the patient is most comfortable and chooses: their home, the hospice, a nursing home, hospital etc.

Is hospice care only for people who are dying?

Hospice care is about living as well as dying. We will support you to live as well as you can, while also being there for your family and friends.

Is hospice care only for cancer patients?

While hospice was traditionally for patients with cancer, a significant percentage of all hospice care is now provided to patients with other life-limiting conditions such as lung, heart, renal and liver diseases, neurological conditions, dementia, stroke and frailty.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care means support for the physical and emotional problems related to a life-limiting or life-shortening illness for patients and those close to them.

Who do hospices care for?

Hospice care is for people diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses. This could be heart failure, lung disease or neurological illness. We care for people from all backgrounds and cultures and want to make it as easy as possible for those who need help to find it.

What’s the difference between hospice and hospital?

While a hospital’s goal is mainly to cure, the goal of hospice is to provide palliative (alleviate symptoms) care that enables a patient to live his or her life as fully as possible, surrounded by care, compassion and dignity.

Do you have to pay for hospice care?

All care is provided free to those who need it.

When should I access hospice care, and who should make the decision?

This can be at any time during a life-limiting illness.  We believe it is appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options. Patients and their families should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their doctor, GP or any other health care professional, clergy or friends. Ultimately, where possible, the decision belongs to the patient. Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to the many concerns that can be raised around involving hospice care and are always available to discuss them with the patient, family and doctor.

What will happen at the end?

The future for any particular person can be difficult to predict however, we have experience of a wide range of illness patterns in a range of different people which may help us to inform and reassure you. The amount and the detail people want to know about their illness and future varies from person to person and so it is probably best to discuss this with your hospice care team who will try to give you the information you require.

How does the Hospice link with my own GP and other healthcare providers?

We work closely with the primary health care team (your GP and District Nurse) and also link with the staff you see within Acute Hospitals, such as your speciality doctor or nurse.

Will I be in pain?

Pain is one of the many symptoms we manage successfully. While it is difficult to guarantee we will be able to get you completely pain free (especially if the pain has been present for a long time), this is what we will aim for. Pain can be very complex and is often worsened by anxiety and other social issues. We will try to help you with these aspects too where they are present. If there is residual pain despite our input, it is likely this will be better than it was, and we will help you to find other ways to try and manage it to reduce the impact it is having on your life.

Will I have a dedicated care team?

Yes, you will have a dedicated contact person you can speak to, to discuss your care.

How do I tell my children?

It is best to tell children the truth—at a level they can understand. Allow children to ask questions even if, to you, some of these seem inappropriate and try to answer their questions simply and honestly. We run a children and young people support service that can help you.

How will I cope?

Everyone copes in different ways – there is no right or wrong way to cope and everyone is allowed to feel a little apprehensive or scared at times of new experiences or of the unknown. The important thing is that you do not feel you have to cope alone – we are here to support you and those close to you. You may be able to identify times when you have coped with difficult situations in the past and we will aim to help you to use those ways of coping again in your current situation.

What age group do you care for?

Hospice care is not only for older people; younger people sometimes need support too, and the team will adapt their approach to suit your needs. The hospice also offers bereavement support to children and young people.

How long will my hospice stay be?

It is difficult to predict how long you will be in the hospice inpatient unit for as this will depend on your symptoms and how quickly you respond to treatment and whether any other issues are identified. We will aim to get you back home as soon as possible where practical. Sometimes it is identified that other support is required in order for you to return home safely and we will work with our health and social care partners to try to ensure this happens as quickly as possible.

What will happen when I get admitted?

We will welcome you, and your family if they are present, to the hospice and introduce ourselves to you. Usually you will be offered a cup of tea by your bed as you settle into the unit. Once you have settled in a little, a doctor and nurse will ask you about your home circumstances, your illness and your symptoms in more detail. It is important to us to understand what matters to you and we may also ask if you would like to talk about your wishes for the future to ensure we have a joint plan to meet your needs and preferences. You will also usually be examined by the doctor. In addition, we may ask you to complete a questionnaire to get a feel for the severity of your issues and so that we can monitor the changes in these with treatment.

If I am admitted to the In-Patient unit, will I get back home?

Almost half of patients who are admitted to Ardgowan Hospice will return home. If you should later need to return to the hospice for further care or treatment of their symptoms this can be arranged through your Consultant, GP or Community Nurse Specialist.