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Hugh Lowson’s column: Hospices are not just for people at the end of life

Friday 13 April 2018

Hugh Lowson outside St Barnabas House

One of the major challenges hospices across the UK have is making people aware of the depth and breadth of the services we provide and addressing common misperceptions that people have.

The key message is that hospice care is not simply about death and dying. I often hear people describing hospices as ‘a place where people go to die’ and a lot of people genuinely fear hospices for this reason.

For many people, being referred to St Barnabas House is by no means ‘the end’. Hospices are now reaching people at an increasingly earlier stage.

Hospice care is not just for the final few weeks of life. A third of the people we care for in our In-patient Unit are discharged and return home, and we have just launched a new ‘Home from St Barnabas House’ service to better support these people.

A lot of people don’t realise that our In-patient Unit only makes up a part of the care we provide. Just 26% of all the patients we cared in 2016/17 were admitted to our In-patient Unit.

Since 2012 we have operated a Hospice at Home service which enables us to provide care for patients in their own homes. Not everyone referred to St Barnabas House will necessarily visit the hospice itself and many choose to remain at home, where possible.

We are reaching people earlier through our Day Hospice, which provides a welcoming environment for people with end-stage conditions to meet in an informal setting, share their experience and enjoy a range of social events run by our Activities Co-ordinator.

Our Therapy Team now provide physiotherapy, occupational therapy and complementary therapy across all of our services, allowing patients to stay mobile or active, improving or maintaining their quality of life.

Hugh Lowson is the Chief Executive of St Barnabas House. His column is published every Thursday in the Worthing Herald, Shoreham Herald and Littlehampton Gazette.
This column was first published on Thursday 12 April 2018.
Read Hugh’s previous column about our Patient Comfort Appeal.