This paper reports on a system of managing admissions and discharges from a specialist palliative day hospice (SPDH) in the south of England. SPDH is a well established component of palliative care provision in the UK, but studies have rarely addressed issues around admission and discharge. Case study methodology was used to evaluate the programme. Interviews were conducted with five patients who had attended the day hospice, taken a break or been discharged and returned; their carer(s); the key worker from the day hospice; and any other health professional who was involved in the patient's care during the admission. Communication issues were found within the team regarding referral and discharge processes, documentation of care, decision making, and information giving. Family members did not feel involved in decision making in relation to the programme. The most significant finding was the emotional and psychological impact on the patients of taking the break. Discharge from SPDH is known to be a difficult and sensitive issue, especially when patients are living with life-limiting illnesses that can change quickly. The patients in this study all had some form of dependency on the service and four of the five would have chosen to continue attending if they could. They experienced deterioration in psychological and physical wellbeing during the period in which they did not attend.