10th May 2022

Hospice care for lung cancer

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The tweet I never wanted to write. The time has come to say goodbye. 5 years to prepare, doesn’t make it any easy. I’m under hospice at home care, & I’m spending my time surrounded by my family.

Deborah James, Bowelbabe via social media

Words of the inspirational, Deborah James, or Bowelbabe as she is known online. For the past five years, Deborah has opened up the conversations around cancer, specifically bowel cancer. Speaking freely and candidly on the podcast, You, Me and The Big C, she also headed up a powerful photo series for Bowel Cancer UK, where she shared her surgery scars.

Sadly, Deborah has now confirmed that ‘even with all the innovative cancer drugs in the world or some magic new breakthrough, my body just can’t continue anymore’ and she is preparing for her death.

It is the day we all dread and sadly, for those with lung cancer, it remains one that comes too soon for too many.

Our Ask the Nurse service receives many calls about hospice care, so we have compiled the most frequently asked questions to ensure those that need it have the information and advice about this type of care.

What is hospice care?

Hospice care aims to improve the lives of people who have an incurable illness by looking after their medical, emotional, social, practical, psychological, and spiritual needs, as well as the needs of their family.

Hospices aim to offer a calmer atmosphere than a hospital. It feels more like a home than a clinical environment and provides personalised care based on the needs of each individual in a dignified and gentle manner.

When is hospice care provided?

Hospice care is not just provided when you are dying. Hospices offer care and support for people from when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness to the end of their life. There is no time limit on how long care is provided.

Care is also not always continuous. If the person is feeling well and their condition is stable, they may decide to take a break from hospice care.

Do I have to live in a hospice to receive my care?

There are many ways to receive hospice care. Most care is provided at home, like Deborah is receiving. It can also be provided in a care home. This can be as in-patient where the person will stay in the hospice. It can also be offered as a day patient.

What types of hospice care are there?

Most hospices offer a wide variety of medical and nursing care and teams can include doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, counsellors, chaplains and trained volunteers.

The primary aim is to help manage any pain the person may be suffering. The hospice may also offer physiotherapy, occupational therapy, complementary therapies such as massage and acupuncture, spiritual and psychological help including bereavement care and practical advice and support such as information about coping financially and making a Will.

They can also offer respite care so families and carers can have a break from caring for a short while.

When should I ask for hospice care?

There is no simple answer to this. It depends on each individual’s circumstances and asking for the right support when you need it.

Some people choose to have some form of hospice care when they first receive their diagnosis, whilst others don’t feel they need that level of care and support until they near the end of their life.

How can I find out about hospice care?

For more information on hospice care, you can speak to your GP or lung cancer nurse specialist. You can also use the Hospice UK hospice care finder.