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The Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care

By: Integrity Home Care + Hospice

Anytime a loved one faces a serious illness or medical condition, there are tough decisions to be made. Many of those tough decisions involve questions about how to treat pain and manage end-of-life care. Depending on someone’s situation, it might make sense for them to start palliative care or hospice care, as both types of care focus on comfort and quality of life. Although both these types of care have similar focuses, they also have important differences, so today we want to talk about the differences between hospice care and palliative care. 

What is palliative care? 

Palliative care is provided to individuals who are living with serious illnesses and is focused on treating the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal of palliative care is to improve the patient’s quality of life. A lot of the time, this involves helping patients manage their pain. Some common illnesses that require palliative care are Parkinson’s, cancer, congestive heart failure, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. In order to begin palliative care, a patient’s healthcare provider can refer them to a palliative care specialist. 

What is hospice care?

Hospice care is a specific type of palliative care. Hospice care is a holistic approach to care that prioritizes peace, comfort, and support for the terminally ill and their family. Like palliative care, the goal of hospice care is to improve the patient’s quality of life. A person is eligible for hospice care once a doctor has determined they have six months or less to live. 

How are palliative care and hospice care different?

Palliative care is a broad term that describes medical and emotional care that treats the symptoms of serious diseases or medical conditions. For example, pain and stress are common symptoms of cancer. In comparison, curative medical care treats the actual disease or medical condition. Using the example of cancer, chemotherapy would be a curative treatment. A patient who has a serious illness, such as cancer, could very likely benefit from both palliative and curative care. 

Hospice care is palliative care for patients who are terminally ill with less than six months left to live. In order for a patient to qualify for hospice care, they must not be undergoing curative treatment. As such, hospice care not only focuses on quality of life but can also address the mental, emotional, and logistical issues that often accompany end-of-life care. For example, bereavement counseling is included in hospice care. 

Integrity Home Care and Hospice is Here for You

If you have questions about palliative or hospice care, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our dedicated team of experts are here to help. Contact us online to learn more about our services and how we can help. 

A home care worker cares for a patient