Hospices are about life


Hospices are about life, not just death as some might think. They make people’s lives – if not their health – better.

“People often think we are only there for those final moments, but the earlier people access hospice the better” says Waipuna Hospice CEO Richard Thurlow.

“Whether that’s months or even years, getting the benefits of the wrap-around physical, social, spiritual and emotional support means patients get to live fully until they die.”

The trouble is, not everyone knows this.

Hospice NZ chief executive Wayne Naylor (pictured)  highlights the urgency of the situation: “A third of the people who die in New Zealand receive hospice care but many miss out.

“Last year around 90 per cent of people with a foreseeable death – about 34,000 – could have benefitted from palliative care, but only 10,800 of them took advantage of the services and support that hospice provides.”

Transformative care

In an effort to change public perception, Naylor and Thurlow are launching a campaign featuring real-life stories of patients and their families.

Through these patients’ testimonies, they will showcase hospice care and the transformative effect it has.

The patients’ stories consider the hospice’s range of support. Besides the obvious medical support, the patients will reflect on the emotional comfort and invaluable guidance the hospice offers.

The services hospices offer include respite care, practical support, loan equipment, chaplaincy services and spiritual support, counselling, child and adolescent support, social work, biography services, caregiver support, occupational therapy, education, books and resources, and therapeutic massage.

Support is there for family and friends both before and after a loved one dies.

Who pays

Right now, hospice funding is split between the Government and community donations.

Not that patients themselves pay.

“While our service is provided at no cost for those who need it, it costs a lot to deliver” Thurlow says.

The rising cost of living affects hospices as much as anyone else.

Wellington’s Mary Potter Hospice says it’s feeling the pressure.

“In the last 12 months, our expenses have increased by ten percent with some critical medical supplies increasing by over 20 percent.

“We must rely on fundraising and the generosity of our community to ensure we can continue delivering our vital care.

“It’s that generosity that keeps us going, making sure everyone gets the care and respect they deserve.”

RNZ says the “government funds 45 to 50 percent of hospices’ work at $92 million a year [and] the rest, $94 million, is collected from donors, bequests and op shops.

“In fact the vast majority of it comes from those shops, run by volunteers” RNZ reports.

That’s a lot of money for a community to find.

That need will see hospices doing a street collection this week.

The help is gratefully accepted.

It means Mary Potter Hospice can continue to care for 840 husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, whānau, partners, friends, neighbours and colleagues in Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti.


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News category: New Zealand.

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