Hospital and hospice care for someone with advanced cancer
If the person you are caring for becomes more unwell as their illness develops, they may feel more comfortable being looked after in a hospice, or possibly in a palliative care unit of the local hospital.
You may have already discussed this with them and they may have written down their wishes in a Preferred Priorities for Care (PPC) document.
It’s often difficult to accept that moving them is the best solution, especially if you’ve put all your time and energy into caring for them at home. You may both feel very disheartened and anxious that they might not be able to come home again. However, it’s common for someone to go into a hospice for a short time so that their symptoms can be closely assessed and managed, and then return home.
If the GP, district nurse, home care team or social worker suggests a short stay in a hospice or the hospital, it might be useful to take some time to discuss this option. The specialist care and advice that can be provided often relieves pain and other problems.
Hospices specialise in managing complex symptoms including pain. They are generally smaller and quieter than hospitals and they often work at a much gentler pace. Many have sitting rooms, accommodation for relatives and kitchens. Accommodation and care in a hospice is always free. Some are entirely funded by the NHS but most are charities and have a small proportion of their funding from the NHS. Sometimes there is a waiting list, but this is usually short. Many hospices also have specialist palliative care community nursing teams and day centres for people living at home.
If you’re not sure about the idea of hospice care, you can ask to visit before making a decision. You can then talk to the staff about your concerns.