Palliative Care is “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering, the early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.” (World Health Organisation, 2002)
When is hospice care appropriate?
Hospice care is appropriate from the age of 12 years or at the stage when a progressive incurable illness has been diagnosed. Care can be provided alongside medical treatment, and also when curative treatment is no longer available. The goal is to enable the patient to live as comfortably and actively for as long as possible.
The referral process takes time, and there is often a waiting list, therefore contact with St Luke’s Hospice should preferably be sooner rather than later. Accessing Hospice care services too late could result in “crisis management” which is not advisable.
It’s important to understand that first contact with Hospice should not be as an ‘emergency service’. Rather, it is a considered, and long-term, holistic care service designed for the specific needs of each individual patient and their family.
St Luke’s Hospice has two admission criteria; the area in which you reside (mainly the Southern Suburbs / Greater Cape Town area) and the illness which you are suffering from.
Which illnesses qualify for hospice care?
- End-stage incurable heart, lung, liver and kidney diseases
- Neurological issues such as Motor Neurone Disease
If a patient doesn’t fall within St Luke’s Hospice’s criteria, they will be referred to other appropriate help and support systems.
- Dialysis patients
- Alcohol or drug withdrawal
Where is hospice care available?
Care is given in the patient’s home where they are usually happiest. Our Palliative care trained, and experienced, nursing sisters visit regularly and a 24-hour telephonic assistance service is available to our patients. In-ward care is also available for short stays, maximum of 14 days, if the stabilisation of pain and symptoms is required, or if the family and caregivers need a respite period. Carers are also given information, practical help, and support where needed.
Who decides to initiate hospice care?
It may be the patient’s doctor who suggests a referral. But the primary decision maker is the patient, or the patient’s family, who must indicate their willingness and give their consent.
What happens next?
- Application forms can be downloaded from our website, to be completed and signed by the patient and submitted to St Luke’s Hospice.
- Medical forms are completed by the doctor, providing as much information as possible and submitted to St Luke’s Hospice.
- St Luke’s Hospice will acknowledge receipt of the application.
- The application will be reviewed by the interdisciplinary team to ensure that the needs fall within the scope of our expertise and resources.
More information on referral is available by calling St Luke’s Hospice on 021-797 5335
A specialist nursing sister will visit the patient, and family, at the earliest opportunity to meet, establish a relationship, and make an assessment. Care will begin at the discretion of the patient and family.
What can you expect from hospice care?
Quality palliative care and support for the patient by an Interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers and counsellors, which covers physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs for the management of pain, and other symptomology, and preservation of dignity. Families and loved ones are included in the supportive circle of caring.
Bereavement support is available (on request from families).