Hospices have a wide range of trained staff and volunteers to look after your physical symptoms, as well as your emotional needs and any practical issues you might need help with.
Hospices offer a wide variety of services, which may include:
- pain and symptom control
- trained staff that can provide care in your home
- psychological and social support
- rehabilitation, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. These services aim to help people remain independent and improve their quality of life
- complementary therapies, such as massage and aromatherapy
- spiritual care
- support for family members
- companionship and practical support to help people living at home
- financial advice
- bereavement support
- short break care for families, also known as respite care
- some hospices have dedicated rooms for parents to spend time with their child after they have died
A hospice can have other services too, to meet the specific needs of their local community.
For example, a hospice could have a transition lead to help young people move into adult hospice services, or an inclusion lead to reach out to people in the community who could really benefit from hospice care, but wouldn’t normally come forward. They may also offer music and art therapy sessions.
Who can help?
This is a list of the people you are likely to find offering hospice care and how they can support you, in alphabetical order:
- Bereavement support counsellors provide a space for you to talk about your feelings and thoughts after someone has died. They can talk to you individually or may facilitate group sessions so you can share your experience with others who are also going through a bereavement. Some hospices offer this service even if the person who has died was not cared for by the hospice.
- Chaplains. Hospice chaplains are there if you want to talk to someone about your feelings towards death and dying, your faith, or your spiritual beliefs. They can talk to you whether you are of a particular faith or none at all.
- Children and family therapists support the children and family of someone with a terminal illness through to bereavement. They can offer counselling and practical help, and can liaise with schools and carers to help them understand the impact of grief and bereavement.
- Complementary therapists can provide therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and reflexology to help with relaxation and ease symptoms like pain.
- Doctors. Hospice doctors are specialists in palliative care who will usually oversee your care. They prescribe medication and make recommendations to make sure you are as comfortable and pain-free as possible.
- Healthcare assistants can help with giving medication, applying wound dressings, and changing equipment like catheters. They can be in the hospice or visit you at home.
- Nurses can be based in the hospice, and can also visit you at home. There are nurses who specialise in particular conditions, such as Admiral Nurses who are trained to support people with dementia. Nurses may provide hands-on care, administer medication, and closely monitor your symptoms make sure you get the care you need. Some nurses have an advisory role, and can talk to you, your family members and friends about your care.
- Occupational therapists can assess any equipment or home adaptations you might need to make your day-to-day life easier, and arrange for these to be delivered. They can also teach you techniques for relaxation and to manage pain.
- Physiotherapists can teach you gentle exercises to keep you active and help with mobility if necessary. Some hospices have gym facilities.
- Play specialists provide play activities for children and young people to help develop their physical, social and communication skills. They can also provide activities to help children and young people manage difficult experiences, like the death of a loved one or if a family member is seriously ill.
- Social workers help with a variety of practical issues, like finding out what benefits you’re entitled to, liaising with government departments on your behalf, helping with paperwork, and sometimes counselling.