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Hospice Care vs. Palliative Care – Understanding the Differences

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When facing serious illness, patients and families may wonder what the difference between hospice and palliative care is and how they can benefit from each. Although similar, there are important differences to take into consideration when determining the type of care needed.

 Hospice Care and Palliative Care Defined

Hospice is a comfort care philosophy for patients that begins after treatment of an illness ends and provides non-curative compassionate comfort care for terminally ill patients. Hospice care focuses on helping patients feel comfortable by treating pain and symptoms while preparing both patients and their families for end of life. Similarly, palliative care also provides compassionate comfort care but focuses on assessing and managing symptoms caused by life-limiting illness and oftentimes occurs in conjunction with curative treatment.

Similar but Different

Both hospice and palliative care patients may have similar diagnoses, including cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, kidney disease, liver disease, stroke, and many others. However, hospice eligibility requires that patients have received a diagnosis of six months or less to live if the disease follows its usual course. Whereas, palliative care begins at the discretion of the physician and patient and can occur at any time during the course of illness regardless of life expectancy or prognosis.

While both hospice and palliative focus on the comfort of the patient, hospice care does not use curative measures and instead focuses on providing care with dignity. Hospice care is patient and family-centric and offers customized support and care based on the patient’s wishes to promote optimal comfort. Unlike hospice care, palliative care does not replace the patient’s primary treatment. Instead, palliative care works with the primary treatment, including curative measures, and focuses on managing pain and symptoms to provide relief and enhance the quality of life.

Care Focus

Hospice care teams provide comprehensive care plans that focus not only on the medical needs of a patient but also on their emotional state to help patients achieve peace. An interdisciplinary team works together to maximize physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort and extends beyond the patient by also providing support for their family and loved ones. Hospice care provides patients with around the clock on-call services, face to face visits, pain management, medical equipment, mediations, inpatient care, in-home care, respite care, volunteer services, spiritual care, and bereavement services.

Palliative care teams take a more consultative approach with patients and their families to help them better understand the illness and how they can manage symptoms, review advance directives, and make informed choices for their future healthcare. An interdisciplinary team consults with the patient’s current healthcare providers, focusing on the patient’s goals, to promote their overall wellbeing. Palliative care provides patients with pain and symptom management, in-person and telephone visits, guidance navigating treatment options, advance care planning, and resource referrals.

Combined Care

Assisted Home Health & Hospice is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care for patients throughout their palliative and hospice care journey. To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help you or loved one, call us today at 800-949-6555.

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