It is Hospice Care Week, drawing attention to the great work that hospices do. helpthehospices.org.uk/#
I was talking to Steve Barnes from St John's Hospice, St John's Wood this afternoon and was surprised to learn how much of their work is linked to day care, hospice care in people's homes, respite care and short term stays with patients being discharged back home after they have been stabilised. I suspect that the words 'hospice' and 'palliative care' both have negative association in people's minds, but a) it is a really good place with really nice, welcoming people, and b) they can do a lot more for you the earlier you make contact with them rather than leaving it until the last six weeks or so. Some of their patients have been in and out for some years, so it really does give a different perspective on palliative care. They really put themselves out to form a good relationship with patients and families. Sometimes people get referred almost automatically; but from other hospitals it is a bit hit and miss because staff change over so quickly.
They also help you through some of the more difficult aspects of coming to terms with things.
We do tend to get worried by some of the mechanics in the process of dying, especially when we have fears about not being able to eat, choking etc but the reality is that we will spend much of our last days peacefully asleep, and they are centres of excellence in pain control. I was really reassured, so I thought that when my turn comes I would be keen to get referred for hospice care - hopefully many years in the future.