Spending last days at home with loved ones

SINGAPORE - Home hospice care enables the terminally ill to spend their last days at home with family.

Surveys worldwide have shown that dying patients usually want to spend their last days in familiar surroundings.

In Singapore, one in four terminally-ill patients a year received palliative care in a hospice, at home or in a nursing home.

More than half die in hospital.

Many do not know that six out of the eight hospices here provide home hospice care services - without charge.

They are:

  • Agape Methodist Hospice (Tel:6478-4725)
  • Assisi Hospice (Tel: 6347-6446)
  • HCA Hospice Care (Tel: 6251-2561)
  • Dover Park Hospice (Tel: 6500-7272)
  • Metta Hospice Care (Tel: 6580-4695)
  • Singapore Cancer Society (Tel:6221-9578)

The largest hospice home care provider here is HCA Hospice Care.

It has five dedicated multi-disciplinary health-care teams, who make more than 38,000 home visits island-wide 24/7 everyyear.

Besides serving from its central headquarters at Jalan Tan Tock Seng, HCA has four satellite centres - in Woodlands, Hougang, Bedok and Jurong.

Each team comprises a doctor, four or five nurses, one medical social worker, one social work assistant and trained volunteers who support and care basedon their areas of expertise and theparticular needs of patients and theirfamilies.

Home care service includes: Providing nursing and medical care to manage patients' pain and symptoms Providing medical prescriptions Coaching families and caregivers on how to care for the patients at home Assisting patients and their families with the emotional and social aspects of coping with death, grief and loss

But the supply of doctors and nurses working in home hospice care has not kept pace with the demand.

For instance, HCA Hospice Care nurses look after 35 to 40 patients at any given time.

Singapore Hospice Council chairman R. Akhileswaran said the ideal nurse-to-patient ratio should be one to 25.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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