Palliative vs. Hospice
Palliative vs Hospice care are different types of care that are often thought of together but there are important differences between the two that are worth understanding. Both types of care focus on providing comfort and support to patients who are facing serious illnesses, but the focus of the care and timing of this care are often different.
Palliative care is focused on improving the quality of life for patients at any stage in a serious illness. It is often delivered together with curative treatments. The goal of palliative care is to help manage symptoms such as pain, nausea, and fatigue, and to help patients maintain their independence and dignity. Palliative Care teams also work on helping patients and families with what can sometimes be difficult conversations about the goals of treatment. They help the patient and family express personal preferences about care and how to approach care if the illness grows worse. Palliative care teams can include doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, spiritual support professionals, and others who work together to provide another layer of support in concert with the patient’s regular care team.
Hospice care is part of Palliative Care overall, but is focused around care of individuals who are more clearly nearing the end of life. Patients are generally eligible to receive hospice care when there is agreement from their care providers and the hospice team that life expectancy is realistically six months or less. Hospice care is typically provided when a patient’s illness is no longer curable, and the focus of care has shifted to managing symptoms and improving quality of life rather than making efforts to cure underlying illness. The goal of hospice care is to help patients remain comfortable and as free of symptoms as possible, and to support the patient and their family and other caregivers with emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice care can be provided in a variety of settings, including the patient’s home, a long-term care facility, a hospice facility, or a hospital.
Palliative Care and Hospice Care are two different types of care that are often confused by consumers and even medical professionals. While both types of care focus on providing comfort and support to patients facing serious illnesses, they have different goals and are delivered at different stages of illness. If you or a loved one is facing a serious illness, it is important to understand the differences between these two types of care so that you can make informed decisions about the right type of care.
By: Chief Medical Officer, Vance Brown, MD