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The Myths & Facts of Hospice Care.
13 March 2014

This year’s World Hospice & Palliative Care Day theme is ‘Achieving universal coverage of palliative care: dispelling the myths’. Hospices all over the world have been shouting out about the myths and facts of hospice care – we thought we’d do the same.

Here’s our World Day 2013 myths and facts write-up on our hospice services – for both adults and children.

1. Myth: Hospice care is for those we can’t do anything else for.

Fact: Hospice isn’t a reduction of care. We definitely do not hasten death, or attempt to prolong life. Instead, we use a different approach that focuses on our patients’ comfort and other needs. Our mission is to alleviate suffering and help patients enjoy time with loved ones, with spirit, dignity and a high quality of life – without aggressive treatments sapping their energy or causing even more pain.

2. Myth: Hospice care is expensive.

Fact: Our adult home hospice service incurs no cost to our patients, regardless of financial status. Star PALS families pay a nominal charge based on their income; families with financial problems can ask for funding to subsidise this cost.

3. Myth: Hospice care addresses only the patient’s pain and suffering.

Fact: Hospice is holistic. Our nurses, doctors and medical social workers take care of not only the patients’ physical health, but also the psychological welfare and financial needs of both patient and caregiver. Our staff will provide support for family members even after our patients pass away.

4. Myth: I might get addicted to the pain medication used in hospice care.

Fact: Pain medicines are essential for controlling the severe pain that comes with many life-threatening illnesses. It’s also extremely unusual for those in pain to become addicted.

5. Myth: Adult patients who live past their doctors’ prognosis cannot remain under HCA’s service.

Fact: We take care of all patients who are referred to us, even if they live past their one-year prognosis. We however discharge patients who are strong enough to benefit from curative treatment, and will do what we can to facilitate the transition.

6. Myth: Hospice and palliative care is only for older people.

Fact: Children suffer from a range of life-limiting illness – from genetic nervous or muscular disorders to childhood cancer, to organ failure. Star PALS takes into account the necessary differences between adult and paediatric palliative care, including the sort of communication that works with children, the family support required, and the unpredictability of the prognosis.

7. Myth: Pain medications are dangerous for children and babies because it is difficult to assess their pain levels.

Fact: Pain medications are safe when correctly prescribed, and our nurses are trained in the standard methods used to determine pain based on the children’s facial expressions, posture, and muscle tone.

8. Myth: We should not talk to ill children about death to protect them.

Fact: Studies have shown that children over the age of three do already know, intuitively, that they are dying, and wish to communicate with their loved ones about it.

We’ll always be on hand to help you tell fact from myth. Just contact us at communications@hcahospicecare.org.sg and we’ll do our best to clear your doubts. Find out more about our services and how we can help at our corporate website, www.hca.org.sg, or at our Star PALS website, www.starpals.sg.