Blog: What is palliative care? The New Year is a time for fresh starts and clean slates and as we enter 2017 we want to make sure we’re clear about what it is we do here at St. Margaret’s Hospice. Hospices can seem like daunting and confusing places to those who’ve not experienced them, or who are about to for the first time. That’s why we’ve put together this list of commonly asked questions, to help clear up any confusion and to bust those hospice myths! What is a life-limiting illness? A life-limiting illness is an incurable or terminal illness or condition that will shorten the life of a person. These types of illness can include heart failure, liver failure, lung disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer that is no longer responding to treatment. What is palliative care? Palliative care is the care given to those with a life-limiting illness. The aim of palliative care is therefore not to cure or to prolong life but to provide the best quality of life through symptom control, pain relief and pain prevention. It also encompasses the spiritual, psychological and emotional needs of the patient, and aims to treat them as an individual. Palliative care also extends to those close to the patient, providing support to friends, families and carers. Ultimately, palliative care is about improving the quality of a person’s life. What is an In-patient Unit? We have 2 In-patient Units which are located in our hospice buildings in Taunton and Yeovil. Each In-patient Unit has 12 beds where our specialist team of doctors, nurses, therapists and volunteers aim to provide the best possible holistic care in homely and comfortable surroundings Do we only look after people in our In-patient Units? Absolutely not. In fact, we care for the majority of patients in their own homes. We have five community teams supporting patients across Somerset, bringing the benefits of hospice care to those who can remain at home. Patients are admitted to our In-patient Units to help manage complex symptoms, for rehabilitation or for specialist treatment that is difficult to manage at home. Who do we care for? We care for anyone with a life-limiting illness, not just cancer. Last year we cared for over 3,200 people across Somerset – this includes the care and support that we provide to families and carers as well as patients. As an adult hospice we care for anyone over the age of 18. Is the hospice all about dying? No! The hospice is here to ensure each day of our patients’ lives is the best it can be – it’s about providing quality of life. Our care is delivered from the point of diagnosis, not just to those in their final days of life. A patient’s condition may stabilise to the stage where there is no further need for our services. In fact, over 30% of the patients we see in our In-patient Unit return home once their symptoms have been controlled. Of course, while patients may remain at the hospice for end of life care if this is best for them, the care we provide is always about helping patients to live as well as possible for as long as possible. What services do we offer? Our services include: Two In-patient Units Five Community Teams Spiritual Care Physiotherapy Lymphoedema Therapy Occupational Therapy Complementary Therapy Social Work Sunflower Centres (Day Hospice) Bereavement Support Services Somerset Cancer Care Support Groups Sunflower Friends Caring for Carers 24 hour Advice Line Please click on the links for each service if you would like more information about each individual area. How do people receive care from the hospice? Generally our patients are referred to us by healthcare professionals, but we also accept self-referrals from patients, families and carers who feel like they would benefit from our services too. To make a referral, you only need to call our 24 hour advice line on 0845 345 8910 although, where possible, we ask that referrals are made during working hours. Our advice line can provide information and access to our full range of services. Do patients have to pay? No, our care is provided completely free of charge. How do we get our money? St. Margaret’s Hospice is a charity so our money mostly comes from the generosity of the community – from people like you! It costs over £10million per year to provide our service. We receive approximately £2.6million in funding from the NHS, which means we still have to raise at least £7.5million each year. We raise this money through our 36 shops, legacies, and fundraising. Our fundraising efforts include the events we hold such as the Bubble Rush, as well as when members of the Somerset community choose to raise money for us by doing amazing things like wing walks and international treks! If you would like to support St. Margaret’s Hospice to ensure that we can continue to provide our outstanding care, please click here for fundraising ideas.