Frequently Asked Questions


What is Hospice Waikato?
Hospice Waikato provides a variety of specialised care services for people who are dying – supporting them, their families and carers through illness, death and bereavement. Hospice is a Charitable Trust founded in 1981 independent of any other organisation and administered by a Board of Trustees. Hospice Waikato is financially supported through the generosity of individuals, community groups, businesses, trusts and foundations and the wider community.

What does “Hospice” mean?
Hospice is a philosophy of care which focuses on supporting the needs of people who have a life-limiting (or terminal) illness. The concept of Hospice has been evolving since the 11th century. Then, and for centuries thereafter, Hospices were places of hospitality for the sick, wounded or dying. The original name ‘Hospice’ means “A place of rest for weary travellers”.

The modern concept of Hospice includes palliative care for the incurably ill in hospitals, nursing homes, institutions and in the community. Many of the foundational principles by which modern Hospice services operate were pioneered in the 1950s by Dame Cicely Saunders.

What is palliative care?
It is the care of the people who have reached a stage in their illness when they cannot be cured and they are dying.
Palliative Care services are aimed at improving the quality of life for the person and their family/whanau.

Who qualifies for Hospice Waikato care?
Hospice Waikato services are for people who have reached a palliative stage in their illness where the focus of treatment is on comfort and quality of life rather than cure and for the people who care for them. All Hospice services are provided at no charge to patients and their families/whanau.

How can I get Hospice Waikato care?
Patients (or their family/whanau) can contact us direct, or ask their doctor, health professional or hospital ward to refer them.

When should I contact the Hospice to talk about care?
The best time is when you or your loved one has first been diagnosed with a life expectancy of twelve months or less. It’s a good idea to contact us sooner rather than later, as this will give you an opportunity to learn about and really utilise the services which Hospice offers. It may be that we provide advice and support for a period of time and, if symptoms resolve for some time, we discuss discharge from our services. In this case, you can be referred again later if our services are required again.

Why should I consider Hospice Waikato care for myself / my family member / my friend?
Our blend of care services extends to families and caregivers and we offer holistic support both at Hospice Inpatient Unit and in the home. Our assistance is practical, physical, emotional and spiritual.

We care about quality of life, dignity and comfort at the end of life and aim to provide help and support to those loved ones who will be left behind.

Do I still see my GP?
Yes. Your GP is still your primary health care provider. Hospice Waikato works closely with your GP and other health care providers, such as District Nurses and specialists.

Does the Hospice provide prescriptions to me?
No, your GP will continue to prescribe your medication. However, our nurses will communicate with your GP, where required, regarding your medications.

What sort of services does Hospice Waikato provide?
Hospice Waikato provides social services support, family support, bereavement, and counselling.

Does Hospice Waikato have Inpatient beds?
Yes, we have 11 beds available for respite care, symptom management and end of life care.

Where do patients and their families receive care?
If you are accepted (on a case-by-case basis) into the Inpatient Unit for respite care, symptom management or end of life care, otherwise we can visit you in the comfort of your own home.

If a patient goes into a Hospice as an Inpatient, is this because they are going to die?
No. People go into Hospice for many reasons including respite care and symptom management. Often a short stay can be enormously beneficial in helping with medication management and improving quality of life. People sometimes request to go into a Hospice to die and this wish is carried out, where possible.

Is it possible to be discharged from Hospice care?
Yes. Sometimes people have remission (meaning they do not have symptoms for some time) and so they can be discharged from Hospice care.

How long is the usual duration of Hospice care?
There is no correct answer here, as it depends on how soon patients are referred to us. Sadly, some people are in our care for a very short time, and others are with us for a year or more.

What happens if I die at home?
Most people prefer to die in their own home. Your GP and registered nurse will care for you, and your nurse will provide all of the information that you will need at the time.

Do I need to pay for Hospice care?
All Hospice services are provided at no charge to patients and their families / whanau.

How is Hospice funded?
A portion of our funding comes through the Waikato District Health Board. The remainder needs to be fundraised through donations, grants, income from our Hospice shops, events and sponsorship. Hospice Waikato needs to raise around $2.5 million annually to continue to provide our services to the people of the Greater Waikato region.

What happens to money I give to Hospice Waikato?
Donations received are applied directly to service provision. These donations go to the general or operating fund which helps to cover day-to-day real expenses, such as keeping cars and medical equipment serviced.

What if I leave money in my will or request “donations to Hospice Waikato in lieu of flowers”?
This type of donation goes into a foundation trust fund to use for our operational costs.

What happens if I cannot manage at home?
We will help to enhance your homecare or we will help you and your family to explore alternatives.

What happens if I have to go to a rest home?
If you move to a rest home, the Community Team will continue to visit you and remain in contact with your family.

How long can I stay in the Inpatient Unit?
At Hospice Waikato if you require Respite Care it is offered for a maximum of 2 weeks, Symptom Management and end of life care is seen on a day-to-day basis. Also it may or not be offered to the patient again.

Do you just care for older patients?
No. Our patients have ranged in age from 10 days to 102 years. Regrettably, from time-to-time we have patients in their 20’s to 40’s, often with children. Rainbow Place was established just for kids who have lost, or are about to lose someone close to a terminal illness.

I have more questions. How do I find the answers?
Every person is unique and will have questions specific to their personal situation. Please phone 0800 HOSPICE or 07 859 1260, we would be happy to answer any more specific questions.