What is a hospice?
A hospice is similar to a hospital in that it offers care to critically ill people but a hospice is able to offer much more than most hospitals.
- Medical care
- Physical Therapy
- Complimentary Therapy
- Spiritual support
- Bereavement support
We all hope that we will never need to come in to contact with a Hospice in any form. But unfortunately it is beyond our control.
Why is Hospice care so important to me?
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that my Mum passed away in a hospice last August. This is why Hospice has become so hugely important to me.
This week marks Hospice care week and it is something I feel is extremely important and I wanted to use my own experiences to maybe help someone else.
There are many misconceptions around hospice’s and I have seen a huge amount of negativity towards the idea of hospice care for loved ones.
10 Facts about Hospices
1. Hospice does not always equal end of life
When it was first mentioned about Mum going in to a hospice, my automatic reaction was to panic. Surely we were giving up and just awaiting the inevitable?
I was reassured by Myton Hospice that this was not always the case, it can provide respite care and the ultimate goal is rehabilitation. The hope for Mum was a short stint of rehabilitation and a chance to get her medication right for her.
We could not predict that she would become so ill so quickly and I am grateful that she was in the hospice when this happened.
2. The hospice will become home to you
Almost as soon as your loved one arrives, it will become a home to you all. It is somewhere that you want to be, warm and welcoming and a home away from home.
Within days, you know where everything is, how everything works and spending time there becomes an integral part of each day.
Going home at the end of each day becomes a tiny bit harder with every passing day because your time there feels so normal.
3. The Hospice becomes family
I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but it was fairly soon after Mum arrived that you began to see the hospice and the staff as an extension of your family.
The staff become so familiar so quickly that it feels as though you’ve always known them.
4. The hospice is your safe place
The comfort you feel in this bubble is like no other. I found myself opening up to people I had never met before and crying on their shoulders. And it was simply because I was made to feel at ease instantly. These people were there to support in any way they possibly could.
They never crowded or interfered, they just quietly went about with their work but were available without hesitation.
There was not a thing I held back while in that hospice. If I felt it, I said it. If I had a question I asked it.
I only felt unsafe when I was not there during that time.
5. A hospice can make almost anything become a reality
Want to have a visit from your pet, Cat, dog or horse, they’ll make it happen.
Want to meet a Footballing legend they’ll take to the internet in a bid to get it done.
And if like me, you want to marry your not yet divorced Fiance in front of your Mum in her last days, well yes they definitely made that happen.
OK so it was a wedding but it was a wedding style blessing but it was everything we could hope for and more. And the whole thing was pulled off in just a few days. And I know that had we have been in a position to go the whole hog, they’d of made it happen.
6. It becomes a key place to you
When your loved one is in a hospice, this is their new home, no matter how long they are there for. In a lot of cases it is where their final moments take place. And I don’t just mean their last breathe.
I mean all of those moments that come before that time. I have some wonderful memories of my time with Mum there. Yes some of those memories are quite traumatic but they are final memories, each one has a special place in my heart.
Since Mum passed away if I hear the word Myton I feel as if I own a little piece of it.
It is now such a part of our history, our story that there is a little part of me and a part of Mum that will forever be Myton.
I am probably a little selfish in that I feel like it belongs to me in some odd way. I don’t like to think of other people using it because to me it is my Mum now. But in the same respect if someone told me their loved one was due to go and they didn’t want them to, I’d not hesitate in urging them to go and sing their praises.
7. They will be more honest than you sometimes want
On various occasions during Mum’s stay we were sat down by Doctors and Nurses and told just how bad things were, They never hid from us once they knew nothing could be done.
It is hard to hear, especially when they tell you it’ll be a matter of days but I honestly look back now and feel grateful that they didn’t keep this from us. I am extremely grateful that they misjudged it and she had longer than they thought both times. But we needed that realism.
I can see how some may not appreciate this honest approach but it kept me grounded and aware of how precious every moment was.
8.They don’t stop caring
Just because your loved one is no longer in need of a hospice, if that means they are well enough to go home or they’ve sadly passed away, the Hospice and it’s staff do not vanish. The door is not shut once you leave, it remains open and loving and nurturing.
They offer a range of activities for the bereaved, counselling, group events, bereavement groups for children, the list goes on.
We have turned up to Myton and never felt anything other than welcomed by everyone we meet.
They also put on memorial events for families which is an opportunity to celebrate your loved ones life with people who are living this same journey alongside you.
9. Volunteers are at the absolute heart of it
Now of course the medical staff are hugely important in the running of any hospice and it would not work without them, the patients really do need the best medical care available and these highly skilled staff provide it every single day.
What may not be so obvious is all the volunteers that make a hospice run smoothly while also saving the charity a whole heap of money and giving so much more to the community. It takes 40,000 staff, and more than 125,000 volunteers to provide the care they need.
I cannot tell you how kind and wonderful these people are. They welcome visitors, they answer calls, take in donations, work in the café, run the shops, and marshal events, they serve food to the patients, provide counselling, pastoral care, a smile, some reassurance and a listening ear. And that just scratches the surface.
Each person in the hospice environment goes above and beyond for their patients and the families. They really are worth their weight in gold.
10. Without crucial fundraising, A hospice can’t function
For many years now I have taken part in fundraising for Myton Hospice in Coventry. I have walked many many miles, usually in some kind of tutu and glow in the dark costumes and I have loved it.
But so much more help is needed for their doors to stay open.
For example Myton Hospice have to raise £9.2 million each year to continue to offer the support that they do.
Yes they get funding from the NHS but this only goes a tiny way towards the upkeep and running of such a huge organisation which runs three sites plus working in patients home.
Across the UK it takes £1.4 billion a year to provide end of life care, two-thirds of which is covered by donations, legacies, lotteries and fundraising from the public. So you can see how valuable the support we can offer is.
So you can see just how important Hospice care is to many many people. So few of us remain untouched by Cancer and critical illness now that we can never know when we will need this care for ourselves or our families.
These facts are just the tip of the iceberg really, there is so much more to them. I am sure many people will have differing views on end of life and hospice rehabilitation based on personal experience, but for me, these sum it up.
I honestly cannot thank Myton Hospice enough, they made the last month of Mum’s life as comfortable as it could be and offered us support as a family that we could not have done without.
Have you had any experience of Hospice care? How did you find your experience?