Hospice Awareness Week
“I told him that after 41 years of marriage, he was stuck with me.”
When Russell Thompson was diagnosed with end stage heart disease last year, his wife Pat was desperate to care for her dying husband at home. “Russell kept saying he didn’t want to be a bother,” Pat says, “but I I told him that after 41 years of marriage, he was stuck with me. When hospice said they could help me to care for Russell at home, I was so relieved I cried”.
Hospice Awareness Week runs from 16-22 May and is an opportunity for people to better understand the services their local community hospice provides for people living with a life limiting condition.
Mary Schumacher, Chief Executive of Hospice NZ, says many people are surprised to learn that hospice nurses and members of the family support team usually visit people in their homes.
“A lot of people think that hospice is a building where people go to die”, she explains. “But hospice is a philosophy of care. Our goal is to support people to live every moment in whatever way is important to them. Irrespective of where people live, that doesn’t change.”
In the past year, over 18,000 families have received care and support from hospice services across the country. Addressing some of the myths about hospice services is a key goal of Hospice Awareness Week.
“It’s so important for people to know how hospice can help them,” says Ms Schumacher. “Hospice cares for people of any age, and with any life limiting condition, not just cancer. And most importantly, hospice care is not about ‘giving up’. It’s about improving a person’s quality of life and supporting their family, whānau and carers”.
Pat says she has been overwhelmed with the range of ways hospice has been able to help both her and Russell. “I knew hospice involved medical and nursing care. They have been helping us manage Russell’s pain and the symptoms of his heart disease. That was an enormous relief in itself, but it was just the start.”
“There are so many programmes and services on offer to help with the practical, emotional and spiritual challenges both Russell and I are going through. To know that hospice will be there for me after Russell has died too is incredibly comforting, it just makes everything seem that little bit more bearable”.
All hospice services are provided free of charge to patients and their families, however support from the community is essential to meeting the shortfall in government funding. In 2016, hospices need to raise more than $45m nationally.
“We really hope people will take the opportunity during Awareness Week to find out more about their local hospice service, to help if they can, and to spread the concept of living every moment throughout their community” concludes Ms Schumacher.
About hospice services:
• The goal of hospice is to support people with a life limiting condition to live every moment in whatever way is important to them, their family and whānau.
• The concept of care encompasses the whole person, not just their physical needs but also their emotional, spiritual and social needs too.
• Hospice care extends beyond the person who is unwell, including family and whānau. Support is available both before and after a death.
• Irrespective of where a person lives the philosophy of care does not change and everything provided is free of charge.
• Whilst provided free of charge to people using hospice services, it costs a lot to provide. This year it will cost over $100 million nationally.
• As an essential health service hospice received the majority of funding from Government, but financial support from the community is vital to meet the shortfall. In 2016 the total required from fundraising is over $45 million nationally.