Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand and have a poor cancer survival rate compared to non-Māori.1 As well as improving cancer survival, it is critical to ensure that palliative care is as responsive to Māori as it is for all patients and their whānau (families). The few studies undertaken of Māori hospice experiences have found negative perceptions about hospice care.2-4 A need for more public awareness of hospice services has been noted, including the message that hospice supports the whole family. Studies also highlight a perception that hospices are mono-cultural and the importance of respecting cultural practices without making assumptions about care preferences.5
This is the first study to explore Māori perceptions and experiences of hospice care from three perspectives including: patients and whānau; hospice; and non-hospice health providers.
Face to face interviews were undertaken with: hospice patients and whānau (n=8), people who work for hospice (n=4), and those from non-hospice organizations (n=5). Interviews were recorded digitally and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis was carried out on the interview transcripts.
A number of interconnected themes emerged from the interviews: changing perceptions of hospice; experiences of hospice care; and finally, the importance of hospices’ relationships with other health and social service providers, alongside growing the Māori workforce and improving cultural safety.
The study has shown that negative perceptions of hospice are being changed by hospices’ work with other organizations and the positive stories of whānau who have experienced hospice services. In order for Māori to feel comfortable about accessing hospice services it is critical that this work continues and gains momentum by incorporating whānau involvement, continuity of care and after hours care, alongside a greater Māori workforce and culturally safe care throughout the final stage of the cancer journey.