Three key points:
> The intention of hospice services is to enhance the quality of life of patients and their loved ones, who are faced with the need for specialist palliative and end of life care, and to help them continue living every moment. A core philosophy of hospice is to neither hasten nor postpone death. This will not change.
> North Haven Hospice care will continue to be available, free of charge, to anyone with a terminal illness or life-limiting condition, including support for their families/whānau; regardless of their views on assisted dying (euthanasia or physician assisted suicide).
> North Haven Hospice staff and volunteers will not administer or be present for assisted dying procedures, nor can these procedures take place in the In-Patient Unit (IPU) at North Haven Hospice or anywhere else at Hospice premises.
North Haven Hospice is a life-affirming service
North Haven Hospice respects a person’s right to make choices, particularly around the end of their life.
We will continue to provide specialist palliative care and end-of-life care to any person needing support, regardless of their personal views on assisted dying.
However, North Haven Hospice is not required to provide assisted dying procedures and has chosen not to do so.
Palliative care by its nature is concerned with maximising life and the safety of our patients. Being involved in the deliberate termination of life does not fit with our philosophy and values. It is not within the scope of our service, nor is it required in our contract or service specifications. We will retain our position as a safe space for people at the end of life; where they continue to be valued and there is no pressure around hastening death.
If we are aware of a patient’s request for assisted dying, we will continue to provide our care, as normal, until a non-hospice medical practitioner or nurse practitioner arrives at the patient’s home to carry out the procedure to end their life, OR the patient is transferred out of Hospice’s IPU to their home or other place of choice for euthanasia or physician assisted dying.
With Hospice’s life-affirming specialist palliative care, people who have a terminal illness can live well and die well. Hospice care is very active care and the pursuit of excellent symptom control will continue through to the end of life.
Hospice care is holistic, supporting the physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual wellbeing of the patient and their family/whānau. This approach may even help to address underlying factors which motivate a request for assisted dying, such as unresolved physical or emotional pain, fear of being a burden, depression or isolation.
Hospice care also continues for families/whānau during their bereavement. This important part of our service will not change, even if their loved one has opted for assisted dying.
We will continue to focus on showing death as a part of life, and dying as a natural process; breaking down barriers and misunderstandings around palliative care, as well as death and dying, to address the fears people may have when approaching the end of life.