Hospiscare is campaigning for fair statutory funding for our hospice. To find out more, please see www.hospiscare.co.uk/fair 

Hospice or care home; where is best for me or my loved one?

Hospice or care home; where is best for me or my loved one?

When you are arranging care for a loved one, it is important to find the place that is best for them. Many people are under the impression that hospices and care homes are the same service but this is not the case.

Care homes

There are two main types of care home: residential homes and nursing homes. Residential homes provide accommodation and personal care, such as help with:

  • washing
  • dressing
  • taking medicines
  • going to the toilet
  • ongoing supervision and having someone to call upon
  • social activities and providing company

Nursing homes provide personal care but also have registered nurses on duty to provide nursing care. Nursing homes are able to provide care for people with severe learning disabilities, severe physical disabilities or both, as well as people with complex medical conditions.

People tend to arrive in nursing homes after having been cared for in some way at home or after having spent time in assisted living or a hospital. Although their health may be less robust, nursing home residents are generally not terminally ill.

A move to a nursing home is a move to a new home where you or your loved one may stay for a short while or for the rest of your life. Nursing homes are able to provide care to the end of you or your loved one’s life as long as there are no significant complications.

With nursing homes providing more specialist medical care, their accommodation fees tend to be higher than residential homes. Before making a financial commitment to a care home, it is worth asking your local authority for a needs assessment. The council can then help you or your loved one look at all of the options available.

Care homes are the best choice if you or your loved one needs help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing and moving around. Nursing homes in particular are best suited if you or your loved one has a medical condition or disability that is not considered terminal. This care will be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Care homes are also a good choice if you or your loved one is feeling lonely as homes usually provide a range of entertainment and activities to provide company and foster relationships.


Hospice care

Hospices provide care for terminally ill people who have complex medical conditions. Their services are available from the point that the illness is diagnosed as terminal until the end of the person’s life, however long that may be. Hospice care focuses on providing pain relief, support and comfort to the individual and their family, rather than trying to cure their illness.

Hospice teams include doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, counsellors and trained volunteers. Your local hospice will offer medical and nursing care, including controlling pain and other symptoms. Some hospices may also offer additional services including:

  • respite care
  • information about finances and practical issues
  • spiritual and psychological help
  • complementary therapies, such as massages
  • bereavement care
  • physiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • rehabilitation, for example helping you build muscle strength through exercise

There is no charge for hospice care if you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Hospices operate as charities and are mainly funded by donations from the community, although a small portion is funded by the NHS. Many local hospices, like Hospiscare, rely on donations from members of the public in their area to provide much-needed end of life care.

Most hospice services aim to go where the patients prefer to be and for many people, this is at home. Although home care is often possible, it is not always manageable if the patient’s symptoms are very complex. Some hospices have a dedicated building where people can access day care and activities or stay on a ward. Going in to a hospice does not necessarily mean that you or your loved one will die there; the average stay on our ward at Searle House is ten days with about 50% of people being discharged home or to another care setting. Many patients will access hospice wards for respite, pain management and therapy before returning home.

Hospices aim to feel more like home than hospitals do and if a patient is to die on the ward, hospice staff are equipped and skilled in providing individual care that is more suited to the person who is approaching the end of their life. Hospices care for people and their ‘total pain’; this is how hospice care differs from other settings as we know that patients may be experiencing more than physical pain.

Hospices aim to provide holistic care; this means that they aim to look after the medical, social, practical, psychological, and spiritual needs of your loved one. This care also extends to those who are close to the patient and continues into the bereavement period after the patient has died.

Talking with your loved ones about a future care plan can help you and your loved ones know what to expect and what is possible.

If you think that a hospice is the right choice for you or your loved one, you can find your nearest hospice here.

To find out more about the services Hospiscare offers in Exeter, Mid and East Devon and how to access them, click here.

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