Rotorua Community Hospice often hears from patients and their whānau that they wish they knew about Hospice sooner.

They wish they had written an advance care plan. They wish they understood who Hospice was and what they do.

That is where Hospice Awareness Week comes in.

Held every year nationwide, the week is about raising the awareness of Hospice services nationally and here in Rotorua.

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Rotorua Community Hospice chief executive Jonathon Hagger said there were some common misconceptions around Hospice care.

"We don't just care for people with cancer – we support anyone with a life-limiting illness such as multiple sclerosis, respiratory disease, motor neurone disease or dementia. In Rotorua, it's almost a 50/50 split."

Last year in New Zealand, one in three people who died were supported by Hospice.

The Ministry of Health predicts that the number of people needing palliative care is projected to increase by 51 per cent from 24,680 in 2016 to 37,286 by 2038.

Hospice patient Frances was diagnosed with lung cancer nine years ago and has been in Rotorua Hospice care for about two years.

Reflecting on the support Hospice has offered her, she holds back tears.

"The support of knowing they're [clinical team] on hand. We can ring them up and it's not a problem. They got a doctor to come home. We've never had a home visit. We didn't even know we could do that."

"The nurses are easy and comfortable to talk to ... what's the word I'm looking for ... empathy. They take you as you are, they don't judge you. Nothing seems to bother or faze them."

Frances' care is predominantly in her own home.

She also visits Rotorua Hospice every Wednesday to be part of Day Stay, an opportunity for patients to get together offering companionship, a support network and of course a cup of tea.

Hagger notes another misconception - people often think contacting Hospice is the end.

"Our goal is to help people make the most of their lives; to live every moment in whatever way is important to them.

"Hospice care is holistic, considering a person's physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual needs, and supporting their families, whānau and carers too."

Rotorua Hospice is holding free workshops from Tuesday through to Saturday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm with guest speakers on a variety of topics, including 'How to plan for a funeral' and 'Advanced Care Planning'.

They are also having an Open Day on May 18 from 10am to 1pm. All the details are at www.rotoruahospice.co.nz.