The majority of our patients never need to stay on our wards. However, some benefit from a stay at one of the hospices for a specific reason.

Of all the people who use our inpatient units, over half will come in for symptom control so they can return home and continue to live independently.

The services we offer are as much about helping you to live better as they are about caring for you at end of life.

The whole team on our three wards is expertly trained to help achieve the best symptom control for you.

They can give you emotional support at this time if your situation or a change in medication is making it harder to cope. They can also offer you support to make plans for your future care.


Friends and family are welcome to visit you; due to COVID-19, we have measures in place to ensure the safety of patients, visitors, staff and volunteers.

A place that feels like home

When people come through our doors we want them to feel at home.

We try to avoid routines, putting up notices or imposing our ideas of what needs to happen.

If you want to stay up late or have a lie in, why not? If you’d like a glass of your favourite tipple, your favourite meal or a visit from the family dog or cat, we will try to make it happen.

Our catering teams work very hard to provide wholesome, tasty food that’s home cooked on the premises. We use a range of local suppliers where possible to ensure meat, vegetables and other produce is always fresh. There is a varied menu on offer each day, and special diets can be accommodated.

Our gardens are uplifting spaces to simply sit and enjoy – they are planted and tendered mostly by volunteers – you can see the love and care that goes into every inch of the grounds. If you want to spend time outside we will try to organise that.

Who you may meet

During your stay, you can choose to access support from as many as 20 highly skilled Pilgrims professionals. All are expertly trained to care for every aspect of your wellbeing – in mind and body.

Pilgrims nurses, consultants, doctors, therapists, counsellors and the spiritual care team are just some of the people you may meet. They are all on hand to support with anything you need and will make sure your wishes are taken into consideration as much as possible.

Your family and friends including children and teenagers, can also access any support they may need.

Our facilities

Each of our three hospices has recently refurbished single sex bays along with some single rooms. All of our rooms have French doors that open onto our lovingly tended gardens, patios and outdoor seating areas.

There are places for you and your family to spend time together including family lounges, dining rooms, and children’s play areas. There are also secluded quiet spaces indoors and in our beautiful gardens.

Click below to take a virtual tour of each of our hospices.

Putting you at the heart of your care

Being able to keep to our ways of doing things is how everyone keeps a sense of ourselves. That’s why you will see we are adapting all of our buildings to make them feel less clinical and more homely.

Our approach to care is always on an individual basis – everyone is different so we have very skilled and adaptable people in our teams so we can meet your needs wherever you are: at home, in the hospice, in the community.

Frequently asked questions

A short stay on one of our wards can help to control your symptoms, even if you are receiving treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy through the NHS.

While your GP, hospital doctor or district nurse may be able to keep your symptoms under control, sometimes controlling physical symptoms such as pain and nausea is more complex. This is where Pilgrims' specialist team can help.

Your treatment will be reviewed to achieve the best symptom control for you so you can be discharged. A typical length of stay for symptom control is between 10-14 days.

Some people naturally experience social or emotional difficulty when coping with a life limiting illness, or may be affected by changes to their medication.

A stay on one of our wards, where our team is available to help, may offer emotional support for you and those close to you when you need it most. We will work with you to achieve the best care for you so you can be supported to return home when ready.

Our team also offers a wide range of support for you and your family in your own home and in the community if you are having difficulties emotionally or with practical matters. Click here for more information.

The first step to see if you are eligible for a referral to Pilgrims services is to talk to your GP or healthcare professional.

Once you have been referred, you will be put in touch with a member of Pilgrims staff who will ask you about your preference regarding your care. This will include questions about what matters most to you right now, and where you wish to be cared for as your illness progresses. You can of course change your mind at any time. Many of our patients like to stay at home or just come to the local hospice for clinic appointments or to take part in some of our outpatient programmes. The team can explain all of these options to you.

We aim to prevent any emergencies developing by planning ahead with you for different scenarios relating to your care. Most of this planning involves your GP and District Nurse too, and we all work closely together to offer you support. However, if an urgent admission is required, Pilgrims will aim for this to happen within 24 hours depending on the availability of beds and transport.

If you are coming to stay on one of our wards, it is a good idea to bring: any medication you are taking; night clothes and slippers; day wear; toiletries (soap, toothpaste etc); squash, sweets and tissues.

Our visiting hours are currently 10:00am until 2:00pm and 4:00pm until 8:00pm.

Children are very welcome but, of course, must be supervised by an adult.

Yes. Pilgrims has a policy that your pets can visit while you are staying on one of our wards. Please ask a member of staff to arrange this. When these furry visitors are in attendance, we ask that cats are kept in appropriate carrying boxes and dogs are kept on a lead. Please ask a member of the nursing team if you have any more questions about this.

Everyone in our team is always on hand and happy to answer your questions. Equally, they will respect your privacy if you want time alone.

Our clinical team is made up of doctors, consultants, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, counsellors, chaplains, complementary therapists and occupational therapists.

Our medical secretaries and administrative staff are an important part of the team too.

You may also meet staff from our catering and cleaning departments and some of our volunteers, all of whom are committed to making your stay as comfortable as possible.

Our catering teams work very hard to provide wholesome, tasty food that’s home cooked on the premises. We use a range of local suppliers where possible to ensure meat, vegetables and other produce is always fresh. We try to be flexible, so don’t be afraid to ask if there is something special you’d like.

Tea, coffee and refreshments are available throughout the day, as well as a selection of alcoholic beverages. 

Generally, breakfast, lunch and supper are served at regular times (ask your hospice team). There is a varied menu on offer each day, and special diets can be accommodated.

A typical menu might include fish with vegetables or cottage pie, plus popular dishes such as curry, lasagne and Sunday roast.

At suppertime, there is the option to have something lighter like soup, salads, sandwiches and a dessert.

Yes, visitors are welcome to eat while they are at the hospice.

There is a varied menu on offer each day, and special diets can be accommodated. The meals are all affordably priced, with any profits going back to Pilgrims.

At the moment, Ashford and Thanet hospices both have coffee shops that visitors, carers and families can use. In Ashford, visitors can also choose from a range of freshly prepared meals thanks to a brand new extended menu.

Visitors can also eat at the Canterbury hospice, where we hope to open a café in the future.

Everyone staying on our wards will be offered a bath, shower or assisted wash every morning. There is an opportunity for you to do a small shop each morning (e.g. newspapers, sweets, toiletries) through our volunteers.

Yes. A portable telephone is available for patients to use; please bring small change for this. Mobile phones can be used, but this will be at the discretion of the nurse in charge to ensure other patients who may be resting are not disturbed.

WiFi is available on all of our wards.

  • TVs in some rooms
  • Hairdressers
  • Manicurists
  • Bedside DVDs

Laundry facilities are available on each site, but wherever possible we ask relatives or carers to take laundry home.

Any member of staff can arrange these so please just ask.

It is safest to leave any valuables at home, but there is a safe available to store small items. You may also wish to have a small amount of cash with you as volunteers can go to the local shops on your behalf for items like newspapers and sweets.

The hospice buildings are designated no-smoking areas for both staff and visitors. However, visitors may use designated smoking areas within the grounds. Please ask the nursing staff for further information and directions. Inpatients will have access to a smoking room available on-site if they wish to smoke tobacco or e-cigarettes during their stay.

On average, people who come in for symptom control or support with coping emotionally will be with us for several days before they return home or to their place of care.

If your condition is stable or improving, our staff will talk with you and your family to help you prepare for discharge from the hospice.

When help at home is needed or if you are considering a care home, this will be discussed before you are discharged from the hospice.

During a stay on one of our wards, it is usual to make plans for your future care.

We will work with you to make sure your wishes are taken into consideration as much as possible.

Our team will help you plan a meeting called a ‘Comprehensive Assessment’ where you, your family members and Pilgrims' care team can talk through plans, wishes or worries you may have.

If your condition is stable, the only follow-up care you may need will be provided by your own GP. Hospice services will still be an option for you should your situation change, or if your GP needs to ask advice about your care.

Some people need to stay in touch for follow-up appointments through our outpatient clinics at the hospice or one of our outreach centres. Many people also benefit from coming to Pilgrims Therapy Centre, where you can access a range of support from our Wellbeing Programme to help you live better when you return home.

Occasionally, following an inpatient stay, a patient or their family may decide that a residential care home is an option for further care and support.

A patient may leave the hospice to spend a little time in a community hospital, where this is most appropriate for their needs.

You and your family’s wishes are extremely important in planning your future place of care, though naturally issues of professional advice, guidance and resources will also be taken into account.

We will do all we can to support admissions near to your home, and to make it easy for your family and friends to visit. In the rare situation that the inpatient unit you prefer is fully occupied, then the nearest available unit will be offered.

You may hear your GP or Healthcare Professional, or one of the Pilgrims team, talk about ‘palliative care’.

This is referring to the type of care offered at Pilgrims to people who are in the later stage of an incurable illness (sometimes also called life-limiting).

The goal for this care is to offer the best quality of life possible for you and your family, to help you live well and for as long as possible.

To do this, we work with you to manage pain and other symptoms. We also provide support to make sure your psychological, social and spiritual needs are met.

An important part of offering palliative care is to support you to live as actively as possible earlier in the course of your illness. Pilgrims services are offered alongside other treatments from your GP and other healthcare professionals.

Palliative care also means helping your family and friends to cope. At the end of someone’s life, palliative care can help people to die with dignity and help their family and friends in bereavement.

We sometimes refer to this type of care as ‘holistic’ too, because it looks at supporting the whole person, not just their physical needs.

Some people do choose to come into their local hospice where beds are available for care in the last days of life. Click here to read more about end-of-life care and how to access these services.

Depending on the situation, your clinical nurse specialist, GP or district nurse may recommend a number of options. They may arrange a visit themselves or with a hospice doctor or social worker. They may arrange additional care to be provided in your own home, or recommend that you move to a residential care home or are admitted to hospital.