We probably have all sorts of preconceptions about hospices, not least because we associate them with places we would rather not know about or be involved with because they are concerned with end of life care. But because they deal with many people whose life will be short, they do become experts in answering all the questions and fears we may have about the process of dying. They take over at a time when the ordinary hospitals no longer hold out the prospect of curative treatment; and deal with patients when busy hospitals may not be the best place. They are centres of excellence in pain control. Their doctors are just as medically qualified as anywhere else and will endeavour to treat problems, alleviate any suffering, and aim to make sure that their patients remain in comfort and dignity throughout their treatment.
St John's Hospice at 60 Grove End Road, St Johns Wood, NW8 9NH (020 7806 4050), for instance, is attached to the hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, uses many consultants who also work at University College Hospital, and, like all hospices, places great value in developing a good relationship with the patients and their families. www.stjohnshospice.org.uk A lot of patients come just for day care. Some are in-patients who get discharged back home after being stabilised. Some come in for respite care, and much of the care takes place in patients' own homes. If a patient needs an MRI scan, they are arranged quickly, and with a trip along a corridor, rather than the patient having to be transported to the local hospital. The Director, Steve Barnes, says that he wishes that patients would contact them early, rather than leaving it until the last six weeks or so because they could then do so much more for people. Some of their patients have been with them, on and off, for some years with their palliative treatment, so the thought that hospices only get used for the last couple of weeks before a person dies is often not true at all.
So, if you want to find a hospice near you, there is a website http://www.helpthehospices.org.uk/media-centre/what-is-hospice-care/ which will help you to find one in your part of the world. There are quite a number in the London area.