Knysna Hospice : Frequently Asked Questions

About Us : Frequently asked questions

Q: Does having hospice and care and support means I will die soon?
A: Hospice and care and support is not just for the end-of-life. It is an holistic approach that includes caregiver support, spiritual care, bereavement and control of symptoms. Care and support should start at diagnosis.

Q: When I choose Hospice does this mean I have given up hope on recovery?
A: Each hospice patient is encouraged to explore their goals in the context of their illness. There are many goals each person can aim for even if they are ill.

Q: When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made and who should make it?
A: At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. In order to build up a good relationship and understanding of the patient and family’s needs, early referral is preferable. In the beginning you may not need much support but it is good to get to know each other.

Q: Should I wait for our doctor to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
A: The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their doctor, other health care professionals, clergy or friends.

Q: Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
A: Certainly. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, this can be arranged.

Q: What does the hospice admission process involve?
A: The patient can make a self referral or be referred by their doctor or clinic. In order to understand the patient’s needs, a medical referral will be needed after a self referral.

Q: Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
A: Your hospice provider will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and supply the equipment on loan if possible.

Q: How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
A: There’s no set number. One of the first things a hospice team will do is to prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed by the patient. Hospice staff visit regularly and can assist in finding caregivers through the Red Cross or private nursing agencies if the family needs full time assistance with care.

Q: Must someone be with the patient at all times?
A: In the early weeks of care, it’s usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, hospice generally recommends someone be there continuously. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, hospices may have volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers.

Q: What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
A: Hospice patients are cared for by a team consisting of a doctor, a nurse, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. Each one provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, hospices provide medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the terminal illness.

Q: Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
A: Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Q: Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
A: No. Hospice patients receive care in their personal residences, nursing homes, hospital hospice units and inpatient hospice centers.

Q: How does hospice “manage pain”?
A: Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so it can address each. Hospice nurses and doctors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists can assist patients to be as mobile and self sufficient as they wish, and they are sometimes joined by specialists schooled in music therapy, art therapy, massage and diet counseling. Finally, various counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.

Q: Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what’s happening?
A: Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to have the patient as pain free and alert as possible. By constantly consulting with the patient, hospices have been very successful in reaching this goal.

Q: Is care at Hospice expensive and will my medical aid cover my care at Hospice?
A: Knysna-Sedgefield Hospice provides care at no cost to the patient. This is possible because of the support of volunteers, donors and a variety of fundraising activities. Donations are always welcomed.

Q: Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
A: Knysna-Sedgefield Hospice provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Many hospices also sponsor bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses.

Q: If I use morphine does this means I will die soon. I am afraid morphine could kill me.
A: Patients can use morphine to control pain for many years without shortening life. Pain relief improves quality of life and may lengthen life.

Q: Will morphine stop me from breathing?
A: Morphine does not cause respiratory depression in therapeutic doses. Pain is a physiological antagonist to respiratory depression. Morphine is used to relieve the symptom of breathlessness in lung cancer and emphysema.

Q: Will using morphine make me an addict?
A: Addition is rarely seen in care and support patients.

Q: Can I start morphine now or do I need to save it for later?
A: We do not have to ‘save’ morphine until the pain is ‘really bad’. There is no ceiling dose to morphine, dose can be increased as the patient requires to control pain.

Q: What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
A: Hospice patients are cared for by a team consisting of a doctor, a nurse, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. Each one provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, hospices provide medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the terminal illness.

Q: Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
A: Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Q: Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
A: No. Hospice patients receive care in their personal residences, nursing homes, hospital hospice units and inpatient hospice centers.

Q: How does hospice “manage pain”?
A: Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so it can address each. Hospice nurses and doctors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists can assist patients to be as mobile and self sufficient as they wish, and they are sometimes joined by specialists schooled in music therapy, art therapy, massage and diet counseling. Finally, various counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.

Q: Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what’s happening?
A: Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to have the patient as pain free and alert as possible. By constantly consulting with the patient, hospices have been very successful in reaching this goal.

Q: Is care at Hospice expensive and will my medical aid cover my care at Hospice?
A: Knysna-Sedgefield Hospice provides care at no cost to the patient. This is possible because of the support of volunteers, donors and a variety of fundraising activities. Donations are always welcomed.

Q: Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
A: Knysna-Sedgefield Hospice provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Many hospices also sponsor bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses.

Q: If I use morphine does this means I will die soon. I am afraid morphine could kill me.
A: Patients can use morphine to control pain for many years without shortening life. Pain relief improves quality of life and may lengthen life.

Q: Will morphine stop me from breathing?
A: Morphine does not cause respiratory depression in therapeutic doses. Pain is a physiological antagonist to respiratory depression. Morphine is used to relieve the symptom of breathlessness in lung cancer and emphysema

Q: Will using morphine make me an addict?
A: Addition is rarely seen in care and support patients.

Q: Can I start morphine now or do I need to save it for later?
A: We do not have to ‘save’ morphine until the pain is ‘really bad’. There is no ceiling dose to morphine; dose can be increased as the patient requires to control pain.