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Frequently asked questions 

What is a Hospice?
There is a common belief that a hospice is where people go to die.  While that may have been the reality of hospice care in the early days of service development, nowadays “hospice” can become involved in the early stages of a patient’s care, enhancing the patient’s ability to “live” through their illness, often for multiples of years.  A common catchphrase is “living to the end”, with the focus on helping the patient to live as active and as fulfilling a life as possible, for whatever duration that life may last.  For many patients, entering a hospice care facility is no different to entering any other care facility, except that the type of care provided in the hospice is distinctly different, being a holistic approach, with supports also provided for carers and family members. Sometimes patients can be admitted to, and discharged from, hospice many times over the course of their illness, each time being discharged when their condition has stabilised or improved.  For others, admission to hospice may be at the very end of their illness, when it becomes the most appropriate place for that final period of care to be provided.

During their stay, patients will receive specialised treatment (known as palliative care) to help relieve pain and other symptoms causing discomfort.  Hospice patients can be any age, from the very young to the very old.  While the vast majority of hospice patients will have cancer, others will be suffering from other life-limiting illnesses where hospice expertise can make a difference.  A hospice cannot claim to extend life, but it can improve the quality of life for each patient, to enable each day to be lived to the full.  A very important feature of hospice care is the support given to the families of patients.

The term “hospice” is used interchangeably to describe either the building where inpatient and other hospice services are provided, or as a general term to encompass the services of the local hospice (to include inpatient, day care and community services).  For example, families in the home might say “the hospice is calling today” to describe the fact that a hospice nurse, doctor or social worker is calling to the home that day.   The word hospice has become synonymous with a service that reaches and touches families at times of great need, and does so in a loving, discrete and highly professional manner.
What Does Palliative Care Mean?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of Palliative Care is as follows:
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. Palliative care:
• provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
• affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
• intends neither to hasten nor postpone death
• integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
• offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
• offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement
• uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated
• enhances quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness
• is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

What services are available at Galway Hospice?
To see what services that Galway Hospice provides please click here

How can I access services at Galway Hospice?
Referrals are made to Galway Hospice by GPs or hospital Consultants.

Does it matter where I live?
The Galway Hospice team provides Home Care services throughout County Galway, and to the Aran and Inishbofin Islands. Within this region, Home Care services are available to anyone who needs them.  The Galway Hospice Inpatient Unit is currently the specialist inpatient facility for the three counties of Galway, Mayo & Roscommon. Home Care services in counties Mayo & Roscommon are provided by Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation.

How much will it cost me for treatment?
A notable feature of Hospice care is that all services are provided free of charge, regardless of each person’s means.

How long is the average stay in Galway Hospice?
Patients are admitted for a period of assessment.  Length of stay will depend on individual need. However, the hospice is unable to offer long-term care.  The average length has been consistently dropping over the years, and currently stands at approximately 11 days.

Is a hospice a place where you go to die?
Patients are admitted to Galway Hospice for a number of reasons including symptom control, supportive care following treatment e.g. chemotherapy and radiotherapy, respite care for patients with complex needs and for care at end of life.  Each year, Galway Hospice discharges in excess of 50% of inpatients into the community.

What patients can access the services at Galway Hospice?
Patients who have any advanced, progressive illness with complex specialist palliative care needs are eligible to access Galway Hospice services.  However, availability of services can sometimes be delayed due to peak demands.
How much does it cost to run Galway Hospice every year?
Galway Hospice currently receives funding of approximately €3,4 million from HSE West towards the running costs of the Inpatient Unit.  However, we depend almost entirely on the generosity of the people of Galway to fund the Home Care, Day Care and Bereavement Support services.  The total amount of voluntary funding spent by Galway Hospice on the provision of services is now close on €1.8 million each year.   This money is raised through voluntary contributions, legacies, weekly draw, and other fundraising activities.

It is the support of the local community that enables Galway Hospice to continue providing the Home Care and Day Care services to patients, families and carers.