Fri, May 17, 2024 8:00 AM

End of life care confusion


Paula Hulburt

People in Marlborough are missing out on end-of-life care sparked by a fear of the unknown.

Misunderstandings over hospice care means some potential patients are not benefiting from the wraparound community service.

As Hospice Awareness Week gets underway, Hospice Marlborough staff are hoping to help people dispel some of the myths that stops people getting crucial care.

For someone living with a terminal illness, hospice can help in many ways, explains Hospice Marlborough Clinical Manager Helen Reriti.

The service is about helping people live with comfort and dignity, she says.

“Many people do associate hospice with end-of-life care exclusively, which can create fear or reluctance to engage with hospice services until the very last moments of life.

“One of our key aspects is around symptom management and enhancing quality of life. It's not about prolonging life but about ensuring comfort and dignity during the final stages of life.”

Encouraging discussions about hospice earlier can help dispel misconceptions and fears, and this can lead to more informed decision-making and ultimately improve quality end-of-life for everyone involved.”

Being able to be care for people in their own home makes a positive difference, Helen says.

“Our aim is to care for a person in comfort and peace, preferably, in their place of choice.

“Being at home accommodates the extended whanau, many have pets, and it’s where individuals feel most comfortable and at ease, also helping to reduce stress.

“Home care is also empowering the individual to maintain a sense of independence and dignity by remaining in control of their daily routines and environment.”

Hospice New Zealand Chief Executive Wayne Naylor says around a third of people who die in New Zealand receive Hospice care.

But the service is there to help anyone with a life limiting diagnosis.

“Last year around 90 per cent of people who died (34,000) had a foreseeable death from a known illness where palliative care could have been of benefit.

“They miss out because of access issues caused by funding and workforce challenges that mean hospices are unable to reach everyone in need, as well as the fear and misunderstanding of what hospice care is and who can benefit.”

The earlier people access care, the better the benefits are, ranging from emotional support, physical, social and spiritual.

Hospice Marlborough relies on donations to provide its free service. It needs $850,000 a year to operate.

About 100 people a month receive hospice care locally.

Hospice works in collaboration with General Practitioners and other health care agencies.

Individuals and family members can also self-refer to Hospice palliative care simply by giving the team a call on (03) 578 9492

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