Mythbusting

People are often surprised when they learn more about the work of their local hospice. On this page, we directly address some of the myths and misconceptions about hospices in general and about Prospect Hospice in particular.

If you've got a question and can't see the answer below, please get in touch on info@prospect-hospice.net or call 01793 813355. 

Are hospices places people go to die?
Yes, but this isn’t the whole truth. The people we care for are typically in the last year of their life. People who are admitted to our In-Patient Unit are often very unwell, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to die at this time - more than half return home. Sometimes patients will come for a period of respite care or to help them to manage their symptoms.

Are hospices gloomy places?
People’s expectations are often different to the reality they find when they come through our doors. We’re keen to encourage visitors, whether they be future patients or families and friends. We work hard to ensure that the hospice is far from gloomy. Our visitors often tell us that, contrary to their expectations, Prospect Hospice doesn’t feel like a gloomy place at all.

Can anyone come and see what you do?
Yes, we are very happy to show visitors around our facilities, though please understand that you will only be able to access the patient rooms if one is unoccupied at the time of your visit. Please call us on 01793 813355 or email info@prospect-hospice.net to arrange a visit. To view pictures of the hospice and our outreach centre, click here.

Are you open all the time and are there strict visiting hours?
We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for patients and their families and friends. You can visit at any time – we have two lodges for families to stay overnight should they wish, and can also arrange for an extra bed or recliner chair to be placed by the patient’s bed should this be preferred.

Aren’t hospices for people with cancer?
For some people, the word ‘hospice’ is synonymous with cancer. While it is true that many of the patients we meet are living with a form of cancer, these are not the only people we care for. Our services are for people with any life-limiting illness, including conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease, heart and other organ failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, amongst others. In the recent past, around 70% of the patients had cancer, and the remaining 30% had other conditions. Prospect Hospice is here for people with end-of-life care needs, whatever their diagnosis.

Is the hospice just for people in Swindon?
This was true in our early days, but hasn’t been the case for many years. We support anyone with a life-limiting condition whose GP is based in Swindon, north-east Wiltshire and the villages of Lechlade and Fairford in Gloucestershire. Our referrals team will be able to discuss individual cases – please call us on 01793 813355.

What age ranges do you care for?
We care for adults aged 18 years and over.

Do you care for children?
We provide end-of-life care services for adults aged 18 years and over. However, our Family Support Team, through their work with the families of people we care for, will support children as they come to terms with the illness of a parent or guardian, and this extends into bereavement. The nearest children’s hospices to us are Julia’s House in Devizes, Wiltshire, Helen and Douglas House in Oxfordshire, and Naomi House in Hampshire.

Do patients have to come to you or do you come to them?
Both. We have a 16-bed In-Patient Unit at the hospice in Wroughton, and offer services for outpatients, carers and families at our Day Therapy Unit at the hospice in Wroughton and at our Outreach Centre at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough. Our Prospect@Home service provides care throughout the local community, and we also work with care homes and at Great Western Hospital. For more information about our services, click here.

Are your medical staff fully trained?
All our doctor¬s and nurses are fully qualified and in most cases have additional palliative care qualifications. If our doctors don’t yet have specialist palliative care qualifications, they will be studying towards them.

Are all of your staff volunteers?
No. Prospect Hospice is an organisation that operates on a £7.8m budget each year, and depends on the expert skills and experience of senior managers, clinical and nursing professionals, fundraisers, therapists, finance professionals, communicators, HR professionals and many more. Like all hospices in the UK, we are highly appreciative of the hundreds of skilled and experienced volunteers who give their time so generously towards our aims.

What do volunteers do at the hospice?
Volunteers have always been a vital part of the work of Prospect Hospice. They support our paid staff in all areas of our work, whether it’s helping sort stock in the retail warehouse, delivering meals to patients on our In-Patient Unit or visiting patients in their own homes as Prospect@Home volunteers. We are very grateful to the hundreds of local people who volunteer for us – without their incredible contribution we couldn’t do what we do. There are a wide range of roles available – to see the current opportunities, click here.

Does the hospice only support patients?
Our patients are our foremost consideration, but they are not the only people who benefit from our services. We have a range of services specifically designed to help families and carers in coping with the challenges that the illness of a loved one brings. These include family support, practical planning, advocacy and children’s advice. The service extends to providing information on legal issue such as wills, lasting powers of attorney and parental guardianship. At least as many family members and carers access the support that is available through our services each year, reflecting our belief that, while we are here to care for patients, their families and carers often need our support too.

Is Prospect Hospice part of the NHS?
We are an independent local charity, not part of the NHS. Last year, however, we received 28.5% of our funding from the NHS and other statutory organisations. We believe the funding we receive is well-earned and represents excellent value to taxpayers. It makes an enormous difference to the care we offer patients and their families. We provide a professional service that is vital to the maintenance of high standards of end-of-life care for our community, and which the community voluntarily supports through fundraising. We believe that through working in partnership with the NHS, we help to ease the strain placed on it by an increasing, ageing population.

Doesn’t the NHS offer the same care?
No, the specialist care we offer is tailored to meet the individual needs of palliative patients.

Are your nurses Macmillan nurses?
No. Locally, the nurses and other staff funded by Macmillan Cancer Care all work primarily at the Great Western Hospital.

Is your Prospect@Home service the same as Marie Curie Cancer Care?
No. Prospect@Home was launched in 2008 to support patients at the end of their lives who would prefer, when it is possible, to stay at home for their last days and hours. It is a service that’s led by nurses, supported by professional carers and some highly-trained, dedicated volunteers, but importantly it is funded solely by Prospect Hospice.

Does most of the work you do happen at the hospice?
Most of the work we do doesn’t take place at the hospice building in Wroughton. Our Prospect@Home service provides care to patients in their own home, supporting people at the end of their lives in the place they choose to be. Our Prospect Community Nurse Specialists care for patients in the community from the very start of their journey, helping patients to live as independently as they can as they adapt to life after the diagnosis of a life-limiting condition. Our therapy, medical and family support teams also visit patients in their own homes. We also provide care and support for patients and their loved ones at our outreach centre at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough. In fact, most of the patients we meet will never actually enter the hospice, but be supported at home or by our team at the Great Western Hospital.

What happens on the In-Patient Unit?
We provide holistic care for people at the end of their lives. This includes symptom control for those struggling with pain or vomiting and emotional support and respite care for people with a life-limiting condition and their families.

Does the hospice really need my money?
Prospect Hospice gets just over a quarter if its annual funding from the National Health Service. This leaves us needing to raise millions of pounds each year to continue to provide our care. And with a growing, ageing population both locally and nationally, there will be an even greater need for our services in the years to come. Based on the growth in the number of patients we have cared for in recent years, our expectation is that even more people will seek our care and support in the years ahead. It is only through our continuing fundraising efforts that we can expand and introduce new services, deliver more care to more people and support more families struggling with the challenges that come with a loved one’s illness.
So, we do need your support, and that of many other people, organisations and business across our community. We respect your support, and ensure that money is spent wisely, with 89p in every donated pound dedicated to the care and support of patients and their families.

Do the patients have to pay for their care?
Our services are free of charge for people from across the community, based on their need. Other factors, such as wealth, faith, gender and sexual orientation, are never a consideration. Currently, it costs more than £7.8 million each year to run our hospice. We receive 28.5% of this funding from the NHS and other statutory organisations and the remaining funds come from our generous supporters. We are always happy to accept donations towards our care if people feel they want to make them.

Are you still the Prospect Foundation?
We are Prospect Hospice. We used to be Prospect Foundation, but the name changed many years ago and is still often used affectionately by many people across our community who remember the work we did historically under that name. Similarly, we are not The Prospect, Prospect House or even The Prospect Hospice, all names that are used affectionately by people locally for who we are – Prospect Hospice.