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.

FAQs about hospice care and care at St Gemma’s Hospice:

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.

This depends on the patient’s particular needs. There is no minimum or maximum length of stay.

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.

No, not at all.

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.

No, you can be referred to St Gemma’s at any stage in your illness. Many people are referred to the hospice when they are first diagnosed as we can provide support in many areas throughout the course of their disease, such as symptom control or rehabilitation after treatment. This care may be through our community team or our day services.

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 liaise with the family doctor to ensure we have up to date information on the illness to ensure the best possible treatment is offered.

No, we accept both patients with cancer and patients with other illnesses.

We 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 can support people at different stages of their illness, including in the early stages. This support is based on individual needs at the time and can include providing a broad range of information, opportunities to plan for the future, emotional support, assessment and management of symptoms, therapies to improve function and well-being, support for family members, etc.

Yes, St Gemma’s welcomes and provides care to everyone regardless of people’s age, gender, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or diagnosis.

Read the St Gemma’s Equality and Diversity Statement.

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.

Please see our referral information for patients, families and carers or referral information for GPs and healthcare professionals.

Yes, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting or terminal illness you are welcome to attend one of our drop-in sessions. The drop-in service is available for patients and carers to attend in St Gemma’s Day Services on a Monday or a Thursday 9:30am-3:30pm. This means that you can benefit from our Day Services without the need for a referral or advance booking.

Yes, in the majority of cases we would. The 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 healthcare team (that’s your local doctor and district nurse) can provide.

Following an initial assessment with one of our specialist community nurses who, a plan is agreed with yourself. Ongoing support can include visiting at your home, attendance at our Out-Patients department, phone calls, video calls or virtual groups via Zoom. Our specialist community nurses can refer to other members of our multi-professional team as needed and work closely with other professionals/services involved with your care, for example, hospital teams, GPs, neighbourhood teams and other specialist nurses.

We may agree with you our support does not need to be on a continuous basis and temporarily discharge you from the community service. However, our staff will discuss how to access our services again when needed and at that point we will discuss your current needs, talk to others involved with your care and if needed arrange how we can support you again.

We do not have set visiting hours at the Hospice.

For the most up-to-date visitation information, please visit www.st-gemma.co.uk/coronavirus

No, 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.

No, respite care is something we no longer offer. We have found that many patients seeking respite care would be better suited to accessing our full services, or do not need the specialist care we provide.

Yes, we can accept patients from outside of east Leeds.

Both hospices in Leeds are happy to respect patients’ choices. Healthcare 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 acknowledges the value of life and the importance of dignity in death. We provide and promote the highest quality palliative and end of life care.

St Gemma’s palliative care services seek to relieve suffering without intending to shorten or prolong life. Palliative care includes the right to decline medical interventions, and requires that a person is supported in either decision.

St Gemma’s Hospice believes that assisted dying (whereby lethal drugs are provided to assist a patient’s suicide) is not consistent with the provision of palliative care.

St Gemma’s Hospice aims to support improvements to deliver equal access to high quality, effective palliative and end of life care for all people at the end of life, whilst supporting families, friends and carers.

St Gemma’s Hospice – February 2016

FAQs about St Gemma’s Hospice:

St Gemma’s has a Board of Trustees, who are all volunteers, and collectively they are accountable for the governance of our organisation. The board, and its committees, ensures that St Gemma’s is effectively, safely, legally and properly run and is meeting its overall purposes. More information about St Gemma’s Board of Trustees.

On a day-to-day basis, St Gemma’s is managed by the Hospice Leadership Team.

Around 28% of St Gemma’s annual running costs are given by the NHS. This means that 72% of our funds need to be raised from the generous local community, through donations, gifts left in wills, fundraising initiatives, a lottery and our chain of charity shops.

The running costs of St Gemma’s Hospice are around £11 million per year.

£20,000 needs to be raised from the generous local community every day to run all St Gemma’s services and activities.

Find out how you can get involved and support your local Hospice.

We welcome all compliments, comments and complaints, as they allow us to continually improve our services.

We have an online feedback survey for patients, families and carers and we invite anyone who has experienced our care to fill in our feedback form. Alternatively, you can contact us to request a paper version.

If you have a more specific enquiry, complaint or feedback to share, please visit our contact us page to find the relevant contact details for our departments or to fill in our online contact form.