Palliative Care and Hospice Care: What’s the Difference?

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Receiving a serious health diagnosis from a practitioner of family medicine can understandably bring up lots of emotions. But you don’t have to go through it alone. There are palliative care and hospice treatment options to help you or a loved one navigate this stage.

Hospice and palliative care are sometimes used interchangeably, but they each have a different prognosis as well as different goals. While both hospice and palliative care focus on managing pain and symptom relief for people with a life limiting illness, when it comes to the medical treatment involved, there are some differences.

Let’s break down the key difference between hospice and palliative care and explain what each type of care means .

What’s the difference between hospice and palliative care?

The key differences between hospice and palliative care treatment are time and treatment.

Hospice care is usually offered to people suffering from a terminal illness approaching their last six months of living.

Palliative care on the other hand, is continuous care for people living with a serious illness like cancer. It aims to improve quality of life and is often used alongside curative treatments.

Both hospice and palliative care provide an extra layer of support and comfort care to a patient suffering from a serious illness. And both forms of care are designed to respect a patient’s autonomy, ease pain and other symptoms, and advocate for a person’s illness, quality of life, and spiritual wishes.

Of course deciding to receive hospice or palliative care can be a big undertaking. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of palliative and hospice care so you can decide which type of medical care is right for you, a family member or a loved one.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care treatments focus on the quality of life for patients living with a serious illness. To qualify for this type of care, palliative care patients need to present serious illness, acute or chronic, as determined by a doctor. Cancer patients, for example, use palliative care when managing pain and other symptoms of chronic illness.

Palliative care provided in North America is typically overseen by your practitioner of family medicine and palliative care team. Palliative medicine can be accompanied by in-home nursing care if your hospital doctor believes it will be beneficial.

Some examples that cover palliative care include:

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Any life limiting illness that can limit your quality of life and/or ability to do ADL’s or IADL’s

Does palliative care mean end of life care?

Despite this common misconception, palliative care is not end of life care. Because patients who choose palliative care often have life-threatening or terminal illnesses, it can be easy to lump hospice and palliative care into one bucket. The difference is, palliative care patients have not been given a life expectancy prognosis by their doctor.

In saying that, if you are receiving continuous palliative care along with curative care and find that the curative treatment is no longer working, it may be time to reassess your condition with your palliative care team and look at transitioning to hospice care if your prognosis is a life expectancy of six months or less.

palliative care

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care

Receiving a serious health diagnosis from a practitioner of family medicine can understandably bring up lots of emotions. But you don’t have to go through it alone. There are palliative care and hospice treatment options to help you or a loved one navigate this stage.

Hospice and palliative care are sometimes used interchangeably, but they each have a different prognosis as well as different goals. While both hospice and palliative care focus on managing pain and symptom relief for people with a life limiting illness, when it comes to the medical treatment involved, there are some differences.

Let’s break down the key difference between hospice and palliative care and explain what each type of care means .

What’s the difference between hospice and palliative care?

The key differences between hospice and palliative care treatment are time and treatment.

Hospice care is usually offered to people suffering from a terminal illness approaching their last six months of living.

Palliative care on the other hand, is continuous care for people living with a serious illness like cancer. It aims to improve quality of life and is often used alongside curative treatments.

Both hospice and palliative care provide an extra layer of support and comfort care to a patient suffering from a serious illness. And both forms of care are designed to respect a patient’s autonomy, ease pain and other symptoms, and advocate for a person’s illness, quality of life, and spiritual wishes.

Of course deciding to receive hospice or palliative care can be a big undertaking. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of palliative and hospice care so you can decide which type of medical care is right for you, a family member or a loved one.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care treatments focus on the quality of life for patients living with a serious illness. To qualify for this type of care, palliative care patients need to present serious illness, acute or chronic, as determined by a doctor. Cancer patients, for example, use palliative care when managing pain and other symptoms of chronic illness.

Palliative care provided in North America is typically overseen by your practitioner of family medicine and palliative care team. Palliative medicine can be accompanied by in-home nursing care if your hospital doctor believes it will be beneficial.

Some examples that cover palliative care include:

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Any life limiting illness that can limit your quality of life and/or ability to do ADL’s or IADL’s

Does palliative care mean end of life care?

Despite this common misconception, palliative care is not end of life care. Because patients who choose palliative care often have life-threatening or terminal illnesses, it can be easy to lump hospice and palliative care into one bucket. The difference is, palliative care patients have not been given a life expectancy prognosis by their doctor.

In saying that, if you are receiving continuous palliative care along with curative care and find that the curative treatment is no longer working, it may be time to reassess your condition with your palliative care team and look at transitioning to hospice care if your prognosis is a life expectancy of six months or less.

palliative care

Where can you find high-quality for serious illness, palliative and hospice care?

While you can receive palliative care and hospice care in hospitals or assisted living facilities, there’s no replacement for receiving high-quality care in the comfort of your own home.

Have you considered home care? Here are some more reading resources that might be useful:

At Nurse Next Door, we have an experienced team of palliative care and hospice care trained RN’s, LPN’s and care‐aides to support you and your loved ones during this difficult time.

Our care team is here for you every step of the way. You’ll be matched with your perfect caregiver, who will listen to your wishes and provide compassionate care you need, day or night. We go the extra mile to bring you peace of mind and ensure this chapter of your life is as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

Learn more about how Nurse Next Door home care services can support your loved one.

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