Myth busting

Separating fact from fiction

Hospice care is often misunderstood and surrounded by misconceptions. People’s perceptions of hospice care can be shaped by various factors, including media portrayals and personal experiences. Here we explore common misconceptions about hospice care and shed light on what hospice care is truly like.

Myth: Hospice care means giving up on treatment

Reality: One of the most prevalent misconceptions about hospice care is that it signifies giving up on treatment. In reality, hospice care focuses on enhancing the quality of life for individuals with a life-limiting illness, rather than pursuing curative treatments – at Prospect Hospice you’ll often here us refer to helping our patients to live well. By providing comfort, pain management, emotional and spiritual support, hospice teams like ours strive to ensure patients live their remaining days with dignity and in the presence of loved ones. What matters to you is the focus of our care.

Myth: Hospice care only takes place in a hospice building

Reality: Another common misconception is that hospice care is exclusively provided within dedicated facilities or buildings. However, hospice care can be delivered in a range of settings, including the patient’s home or care/nursing homes. The goal is to create a supportive environment that meets the individual’s needs and preferences. At Prospect Hospice, we’ll speak to our patients about what matters to them and that will include a conversation about where they would like to be cared for. Most of our patients are cared for in their homes. Our team of specialist doctors provide care for people in our hospice beds and at home, and our consultants will review people in community clinics, outpatient clinics, at the hospice, and in their homes.

Myth: Hospice care hastens death

Reality: There is a misconception that receiving hospice care accelerates the dying process. On the contrary, hospice care aims to provide comprehensive support to individuals during their end of life journey, ensuring their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Hospice teams such as ours work closely with patients, their families and healthcare professionals to develop personalised care plans that prioritise comfort and alleviate distressing and painful symptoms.

Myth: Hospice care is only for the final days of life

Reality: Hospice care is often associated with the final days or weeks of life. However, hospice services can be accessed earlier in the course of a terminal illness and at Prospect Hospice we often, but not exclusively, care for those in their last six to 12 months. By involving hospice care earlier, patients and their families can benefit from extended support, symptom management and emotional counselling. Early integration of hospice care can enhance the patient’s quality of life and provide valuable assistance to their loved ones.

Myth: Hospice care means being alone

Reality: Many people mistakenly believe that hospice care entails being alone or isolated. In reality, hospice care embraces a holistic approach that prioritises emotional support and companionship. Hospice teams, consisting of doctors, specialist nurses, physios, occupational therapists, social workers and volunteers (the list goes on), work collaboratively to ensure patients receive comprehensive care and are surrounded by their loved ones throughout their end of life journey.

Myth: Hospice care is expensive

Reality: In England, hospice care is offered by charities and while they have to raise millions of pounds each year to be able to pay for it, the care and support they offer is entirely free of charge to the people who need it, ensuring there are no barriers to accessing this area of vital healthcare. At Prospect Hospice, the community of Swindon and north east Wiltshire comes together to raise around £8 million a year to ensure around 1,800 patients can be cared for, no matter what their circumstances are.

Myth: Hospice care is only for the patient

Reality: Unlike other forms of healthcare which focus on the individual patient, hospice care is very different; caring for the family as well. At Prospect Hospice, our family support team (the clue is in the title!) is there to support the loved ones of our patients, helping with practical things such as applying for disability benefit, but also supporting the family after a death, with bereavement support to help them navigate a new way of living without that special person in their life. Our social workers are able to support families before and after the death of a relative and we provide support for carers.

Myth: Hospice care is funded through my taxes

Reality: At Prospect Hospice, around 25% of what it costs to care for patients comes from sources like the NHS. A huge 75%, around £8 million a year, is money the charity needs to raise itself. This is done through things like fundraising events, charity shops, gifts in wills and people holding their own bake sales and quiz nights. The community we support, made up of around 330,000 local people, comes together each year to raise these vital funds, ensuring we can continue to offer this specialist care free of charge to everyone who needs it.

Reality of hospice care

Hospice care revolves around the principles of compassionate care, pain management, and holistic support for both patients and their families. The hospice team ensures that physical symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea and fatigue are effectively managed, enabling patients to remain comfortable and at ease.

Additionally, hospice care addresses the emotional and psychological needs of patients and their loved ones. Trained professionals provide counselling, bereavement support and support with making difficult decisions. This comprehensive approach creates an environment that fosters emotional healing, acceptance and a sense of closure.

Hospice care is a compassionate and invaluable service that provides comfort, support and dignity to individuals facing terminal illnesses. It is crucial to dispel the misconceptions surrounding hospice care to foster a better understanding of its true nature. By embracing the philosophy of hospice care, we can ensure that individuals and their families receive the holistic support they need during one of life’s most challenging journeys.