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Palliative and hospice care

Palliative care is concerned with quality of life from the point of diagnosis onwards.  It is designed to make sure you receive the best possible medical, practical and emotional support according to your wishes.  The earlier you can access this care, the more benefit it will bring to you and your family and friends.  If hospices are limited in your area, then palliative care can be reached in hospitals.

What is Palliative Care?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined palliative care as follows:

  • provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
  • intends neither to hasten or postpone death
  • integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
  • offers support to help patients live as actively as possible until death
  • helps the family cope during the illness and in bereavement
  • is applicable early in the course of illness alongside other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Who provides palliative care?

Depending on your needs, palliative care can be provided  at home, in hospital, in a care home with nursing and or at home.  It may be beneficial to ask your GP to refer you to the palliative care team soon after diagnosis to ensure support is there for the whole family, including counselling support.


Hospices care for the whole person, aiming to meet their physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs in the last stages of their life.

Hospice care can be provided at home, in day care, and in the hospice itself. The average length of stay is just 13 days and half of those admitted to a hospice return home again. All care is provided free of charge.

Hospices can provide a range of services including:

  • pain control and symptom relief
  • skilled nursing care
  • counselling, complementary therapies, physiotherapy and spiritual care
  • activities such as art, music, reminiscence, beauty treatments;
  • and bereavement support.

Marie Curie Hospice aims to improve the quality of life for people living with life threatening illnesses, whilst supporting their families and carers. Whilst most of the patients have cancer-related conditions, their services are available to people with other conditions.

Referral to the hospice is usually arranged by the patient’s GP or hospital doctor.

St Oswald’s Hospice provides specialist care for local adults, young people and children. They are situated in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne and offer a day hospice, lymphoedema service, an inpatient unit, complementary therapy service and a consultant outpatient clinic.

Adults with life limiting conditions are referred for pain and symptom management and end of life care. They care for patients with cancer, as well as those with end stage neurological, cardiac and respiratory conditions.

Palliative Care Service at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust consists of  Clinical Nurse Specialists and consultants in palliative medicine. They can provide help to manage physical symptoms such as pain, breathlessness and nausea, alongside emotional and practical support.

Home Group – Services for Older People provide support at home to adults who are coming to the end of their life or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The service aims to help them make practical arrangements and choices to enable them to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, and includes support with:

  • arranging home aids and adaptations
  • applying for benefits
  • putting your affairs in order
  • learning a new skill
  • taking up a new hobby
  • giving you someone to talk to

Other useful organisations

Hospice UK is the leading charity supporting hospice care throughout the UK and provide information, support and opportunities to get involved.

Lifespan is a local charity which brings ease and support to people with serious and life-threatening illness, and to the family members and friends who care for them.

National Council for Palliative Care is the umbrella charity for all those involved in palliative, end of life and hospice care

Dying Matters aims to raise awareness of death, dying and bereavement. Their website offers a variety of free resources to help start those conversations, including information for carers who look after someone approaching the end the end of their life.

Record Me Now enables you to record a video to connect with your loved ones towards the end of life.

The Digital Legacy Association gives templates and information and advice about your internet legacy and how to manage it.


The Social Security Special Rules for End of Life Bill means that people considered by a clinician as having 12 months or less to live (rather than the current six months) can have fast-tracked access to benefits (see list below). The extended fast-track access means those eligible are not subject to a face-to-face assessment, or waiting period, with the majority of individuals receiving the highest rate of those benefits.  Benefits affected include: Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance.

Other useful information

Last updated: July 19, 2022

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