It is natural that you may not know what to expect from hospice care and that you may have many questions. We have tried to answer the most frequent queries people tend to have. If we haven’t answered your question here, or you need further advice or support, please call us on 0113 218 5500.
Nowadays hospices tend to care for people with very complicated needs for a short time to enable these problems to be helped and to enable them to be discharged back home.
About half of our patients are discharged back home with the other half choosing to die in the hospice.
Over the last few years the average length of stay has been about two weeks. The Hospice does not offer long term care as this is a service that is offered by other services in Leeds such as care homes however some patients do sometimes stay longer than usual because of very complicated and changing needs. A hospice is a specialist centre for supporting people with a terminal illness, that is an illness that is not responsive to curative treatment.
Nowadays hospices tend to care for people with very complicated needs for a short time to enable these problems to be helped and to enable them to be discharged back home. About half of our patients are discharged back home with the other half choosing to die in the hospice.
Many patients under our care stay at home throughout the course of their illness and die peacefully in their own home.
Many patients have only one admission whilst others have two or more.
Some patients choose to die in the hospice once they get to know us and death is approaching.
Other patients and sometimes their families too will change their minds about care at home when death approaches and we are happy to support them with the choice that they make.
We have expertise in pain management, control of nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, spiritual distress and many other troublesome problems.
The earlier we get to know the patient the quicker we can be called upon if any problems arise that require urgent intervention. It also means we can liase with the family doctor to ensure we have up to date information on the illness to ensure the best possible treatment is offered.
We actually take anyone who has an ‘active progressive, advanced disease that is not responsive to curative treatment’.
What this means is that we take people with cancers that are deemed not to be curable and people with illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease, neurological disease etc where they have been informed that the disease is likely to be terminal. This doesn’t mean that we only get involved at the end of someone’s life, we frequently see people very early on in their illness to offer psychological and spiritual support, symptom control, rehabilitation after treatment such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.
The majority of our patients are seen and assessed in their own home by one of our specialist community nurses who in agreement with yourself may visit frequently or occasionally. The nurse may even decide that you don’t need our help at all at the moment but as we know you we can instigate support at a moments notice.
We need a referral form which should be completed either by your GP or hospital doctor although we do accept referrals from anybody with their doctor’s permission.
If you require a referral form please contact our community team on 0113 218 5540. The completed form can then be sent (or faxed and then sent) to the Hospice.
In the majority of cases we would as St Gemma’s have a community team of specialist nurses who will visit you in your own home to assess your needs and to discuss a plan of care that meets your needs and fits in with the care that your family and the primary health care team (that’s your local doctor and district nurse) can provide.
We do not charge patients or their carers for any of the services we offer.
Many patients think we are funded by the government in a similar way to the NHS, however the majority of our income is raised through support from the public and patients.
Our major source of income is legacies, followed by fundraising events etc, shops income and money donated by grateful patients and relatives either during their stay or at collections organised by the family.
We used to – but found that many of these patient’s needs were not specialist in the sense that they didn’t need anything different when they were in St Gemma’s than when they were at home. Often these patients were booked in to the hospice weeks in advance to give their carers a break. However, it was often the case that we would be committed to taking the respite patient when in actual fact someone with greater needs might have been offered the bed i.e. someone with severe symptom problems or who were terminally ill. We therefore discharged these patients from respite but have offered both symptom control and terminal care to them since then.
It was interesting that when we audited how many patients had really had respite care when they were in we found that the majority had needed other interventions such as reassessment, symptom control and terminal care and therefore felt confident that many of these patients would still be able to use our services.
We also lobbied the former health authority for proper respite provision in Leeds as we felt that there was a need that greater than what we had provided.
Yes, both hospices in Leeds are happy to respect patients’ choices.
Health care professionals usually refer patients from the eastern side of Leeds to St Gemma’s Hospice, and from the western side of Leeds to the Sue Ryder Care Wheatfields hospice. However, sometimes patients from other areas in Leeds, or elsewhere in the country, may prefer to come to us because their relatives live closer, they have a connection with us, or some other reason.
We are more than happy to take these preferences into account.
It is not possible to access the St Gemma’s community team service from outside our area. Extended travel times for our teams would mean we would have less time to visit patients. Please contact our team if you require further advice.
We would like to clarify the position that St Gemma’s Hospice holds on Assisted Dying for those diagnosed as terminally ill and anticipated to be in the last months of life.
The term ‘Assisted Dying’ is often used to describe circumstances in which a person is either helped to end their own life (physician-assisted suicide), or where there is a deliberate act to end a person’s life (euthanasia).
Assisted Dying is a complex subject which raises challenging ethical questions for hospice care. St Gemma’s Hospice recognises that across society there is a range of different views, and respects the right of everyone to take an individual position. It is our view that the question of whether there should be a change in the law is one for society to consider and for the parliaments and assemblies across the UK to decide.
The St Gemma’s Hospice position is as follows:
St Gemma’s Hospice – February 2016