Hospice care is a specialised form of care provided to individuals with terminal or life limiting illnesses. It is a comprehensive approach to care that focuses on improving the quality of life for patients and their families by providing pain management, symptom control, and emotional support.

In the UK, patients must have a prognosis of 12 months or less, and they must have a condition that cannot be cured or effectively treated, to be eligible for hospice care. In addition, patients must have a significant level of pain or other symptoms that require management.

Typically a General practitioner (GP) or a nurse will make a referral to a hospice care provider. The care provider will then conduct an assessment to determine if the patient meets the eligibility criteria for hospice care.

Services Provided by Hospice Care

Hospice care provides a range of services to meet the needs of patients with life-limiting illnesses, as well as their families and carers. 

Pain and symptom management

One of the main objectives of hospice care is to manage pain and other symptoms associated with life-limiting illnesses. Hospice staff are trained to manage pain and other symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and breathing difficulties.

Emotional and spiritual support

Hospice care recognises the importance of emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families. Hospice staff provide emotional support to patients and their families throughout their illness journey. They also provide spiritual support through chaplaincy services, which are available to patients of all faiths or none. 

Practical support and advice

Hospice care provides practical support and advice to patients and their families to help them cope with the challenges of a life-limiting illness. Hospice staff can provide advice on financial, legal, and practical issues such as accessing benefits, making a will, or arranging for respite care

They can also provide support with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation, as well as practical support with transportation to medical appointments or accessing community resources.

Also find out more about Palliative Care to see if it fits your needs.

Hospice Care Settings

Hospice care in the UK is delivered in various settings to provide comfort and support to individuals nearing the end of their lives. The settings may vary depending on the patient's needs, preferences, and circumstances. 

Hospice care at home

  • In-patient hospice care: In-patient hospice care provides 24-hour care and support at dedicated facilities for patients who require intensive care. 
  • Hospice care at home: Home hospice care enables patients to receive hospice care in the comfort of their own homes. 
  • Day hospice care: Day hospice care provides a range of activities, therapies, and support services to patients who are well enough to remain at home but require additional support to manage their symptoms and maintain their quality of life.
  • Hospice care in hospitals: Hospice care is also provided in hospitals for patients who require intensive symptom management and end-of-life care but are unable to receive hospice care at home or in a hospice facility. Hospitals have palliative care teams that provide care, practical support and advice to patients and their families.

Hospice Care Team

Hospice care is a collaborative effort that involves a team of healthcare professionals who provide comprehensive care to patients and their families. This team usually comprised medical professionals, nursing staff, social workers, spiritual care providers, and volunteers. 

Funding for Hospice Care

As vital as hospice care is, the cost of providing this care can still be significant. In the UK, there are several ways in which hospice care can be funded.

  • NHS: The NHS provides funding for hospice care through Integrated Care Systems and the Primary Care Networks in collaboration with the local councils.
  • Charity: Many hospices in the UK are also funded through charitable donations. 
  • Personal Funding: Personal funding may be an option for those who can afford it.


Hospice care is an essential service that provides comfort, support, and dignity to patients approaching the end of their lives. One of the biggest challenges is the stigma associated with hospice care, which can prevent people from accessing it in the first place. But in reality, hospice care can help improve the quality of life for terminally ill individuals and their loved ones. With a multidisciplinary approach to care and a focus on personalised support, hospice care can significantly improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

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