Home > Services > Inpatient Unit

The St Columba’s Hospice Inpatient Unit

inpatient unit


Our Inpatient Unit has the resource to meet the varied and changing needs of up to 30 patients with advanced progressive illness, with a focus on quality of life for each patient and support for family and friends.

Patients are often admitted to the Inpatient Unit when their illness has reached an advanced stage, but we also provide care and treatment for short periods to patients having difficulties managing their symptoms. This can include pain management and nausea control, and often provides some much-needed support to the patient’s family and carers. Around 40% of our inpatients are able to return home once symptom control has been achieved.

Whilst symptom control is extremely important, we also aim to alleviate any other physical, emotional, social or spiritual needs. To this end, each patient is cared for by a multi-disciplinary team, including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, a social worker, chaplain, pharmacist, counsellor, complementary therapist – and even a hairdresser!

Every one of our patients are cared for by a dedicated team of nurses – led by a Ward Manager – who are responsible for overseeing their care and encouraging them to be actively involved in any decisions relating to and in the planning of their care.

This commitment to individualised patient-centred care continues to inform our approach when a patient enters the final days of their lives. Clear and sensitive communication with patients and families about the patient’s condition and about the wishes and needs of their families is vital to good end-of-life care. In the last days or hours of life excellent symptom management to ensure maximum comfort for the patient is crucial, and we ensure our documentation of communication and care planning provides evidence of the quality of the end-of-life care we provide.

Ward Layout

We have two Inpatient wards – Cedar Ward on the ground floor of the Hospice, and Pentland Ward on the first floor. Each ward has nine single patient rooms and two three-bedded patient rooms. Anyone who wishes to discuss their preferences regarding rooms in advance should contact the Hospice’s clinical team for more information.

Visiting & Staying Over

St Columba’s Hospice has an open 24-hour visiting policy and we welcome visits by children. By prior arrangement, pets can also be brought in. If you wish to stay at the Hospice overnight to spend time with your loved one, we also have family bedrooms available on both wards.


While the hospice building is a no-smoking zone, there is a smoking shelter for patients within the front of the grounds. Click here to read our smoking policy for patients.


Patients must be referred to the Hospice by their health or social care professional. Click here for referrals information.


When you are admitted to the hospice, the multidisciplinary team will start by getting to know you and how best to manage your symptoms.

Your multidisciplinary team might include medical staff, nursing staff, pharmacy staff physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, counsellor and chaplaincy.

Once your symptoms are as well managed as possible, we will talk to you about planning for the future and getting ready for

discharge. This might involve helping you to think about what you might need at your home, or considering an alternative place of care.

Why is discharge planning necessary?

We know that it might be worrying to think about being discharged from the hospice. We have put a process in place to ensure you are fully involved in all decisions about your care and support. This will ensure that your discharge to home or alternative place of care is appropriate and supported.

The hospice is a specialist unit supporting people. When your condition stabilises and you can be supported safely elsewhere, you no longer require our inpatient palliative care. This means that we are able to continue to provide the specialised inpatient palliative service for others who need it.

Discharge planning meeting

If you wish, this will include you, and any other people you wish to be

involved. This may be someone from your family or others who support you. There will also be the relevant members of the multidisciplinary team and depending on your circumstances other professionals of your health and social care teams. home or to an alternative

At this meeting, everyone involved will have the opportunity to ask questions, discuss any concerns and contribute to the discharge plan. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that the there is a clear plan and everything is put in place to support discharge home or to an alternative place of care.

However, the plans can be reviewed if your condition/circumstances changes during this time.

What happens after the meeting?

Following the discharge meeting you, your family and the rest of the multidisciplinary team will have a plan and goals to work towards to enable you to return home or to an appropriate alternative place of care.

What if going home is not possible?

If home is not going to work for you but you no longer require a hospice specialist palliative in-patient bed, then Hospital Based Clinical Complex Care (HBCCC) or a care home may be the most appropriate option.

A referral to HBCCC is undertaken by medical staff and is then considered by the consultant responsible for managing this. This is an NHS facility which provides care for patients with complex needs who cannot be cared for in any other setting. A leaflet will be provided with further information on the HBCCC facilities and we will continue to support you with this.

If the best option is being supported in a care home this assessment would be taken forward by the social worker. The social worker will provide information on options, funding and provide support with this process.

We endeavour to ensure you are supported and involved in any planning regarding discharge from St Columba’s Hospice. If you have any concerns throughout the process and wish to discuss with senior staff then please ask to speak with the In-patient Unit manager.

New – Hospice partnership with Macmillan

The Hospice is pleased to be partnering with Macmillan, to enable patients to access all the financial support they are eligible for. Macmillan is a charity that supports people with cancer, however in the Hospice partnership  with Macmillan, their support and advice regarding benefits and financial support is available to all of the Hospice’s patients – whatever illness you have. Find out all about the partnership and how you can access the Macmillan team at the Hospice here.