palliative care and hospiceWhat is Palliative Care and Hospice?

Palliative care and hospice are very similar and often confused. The main difference is that hospice is offered at the end of life. Palliative care can be offered to anyone at anytime during their illness or disease. Hospice is palliative care.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a holistic approach provided to terminally ill patients who are expected to live six months or less. It allows nature to take its course and helps patients live their remaining days with peace, comfort and dignity.

Hospice also provides compassion and support to your loved ones during and after your illness.

Initially, the hospice staff will meet with you, your family and other people involved in your care to develop a team and a plan. The team may include doctors; nurses; home health care assistants; clergy and other spiritual leaders; occupational, speech and physical therapists; and volunteers.

They will make you as comfortable as possible by providing medical equipment and supplies, and a combination of services that address your physical, emotional and spiritual needs, including pain control and symptom management.

Hospice is usually provided in your home. It’s also offered in hospitals, nursing facilities and hospice centers. Assistance is available 24 hours a day, every day.

Medicare, private insurance and Medicaid (in most states) cover hospice costs for eligible patients.

What is Palliative Care?

According to the NHPCO, palliative care extends the principles of hospice care to people who could benefit from holistic care earlier in the process of their illness or disease.

Like hospice, palliative care helps improve the quality of life for patients and their families. It can be provided at any time to anyone with a serious illness, such as cancer, congestive heart disease, kidney failure, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases.

Usually coordinated by your primary physician, palliative care brings together a team of specialists similar to a hospice team. They will work closely with you and your family to help relieve symptoms such as pain, stress, nausea, difficulty sleeping, shortness of breath, and depression.

The team will also help you navigate the medical system and learn how to communicate with your medical team so that you can better understand treatment options and gain more control over your care.

Like hospice, palliative care also provides emotional and spiritual support to you and your loved ones, and if needed, bereavement counseling.