Hospice helps whole family not just the patient

Muriel Riley 81, goes to the day programme at Hospice Taranaki.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

Muriel Riley 81, goes to the day programme at Hospice Taranaki.

Hospice Taranaki looked after Muriel Reilly's husband and now they are looking after her.

Reilly, 81, has lung cancer and attends the day programme at the hospice on Wednesdays and Fridays, she said.

"I had no idea about hospice and how it worked until my husband was in here and he died in here actually.  These people here are angels. You have no idea what they're like."

Hospice week is May 14 to 20 and is about raising awareness about a hospice does. Hospice Taranaki looked after more than 600 patients in the last 12 months. All of the hospice's services are free and as government funding only covers 65 per cent it has to raise the remaining $1.7million from the community. 

Reilly's husband Raymond died more than three years ago, she said.

"They looked after him really well. And not just him, the whole family. Until you have anything to do with them you don't realise the great work they do." 

She lives at home with her son, who looks after her, and has been going to the day programme at the hospice since the end of February.

"It's lovely. You meet different people. They generally have beautiful morning teas, then they have speakers, then we have a lovely lunch. It takes your mind off...if you sit at home you're inclined to think about things, but you talk about different things when you are with other people."

Lawrie, who is in his 90th year, has been attending the day programme for about 15 months.

"I like it from many points of view not least of which it is a a bit of a break from your own back yard. It's an excuse to get out once a week to have a bit of a chat with people of the same sort of mindset."  

Chief executive Kevin Nielsen said hospice week is to give people a better understanding of hospice and the service it provides.

"Most of our work is in the community. That's the main focus  - to support people at home if at all possible."

The inpatient unit is predominantly for symptom management. And they also have people stay there for respite care, he said.

"Certainly people can be here for end stage, but only 20 per cent of the patients who are involved with hospice actually die here. The rest die at home and increasingly in age cared." 

 

 - Stuff

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