Ask Vanessa: Are hospice and palliative care the same?
Senior Home Care
Dec 27, 2023
4 min read
My father suffers from a respiratory disease. His health is getting worse and he has been in and out of the hospital several times. As his primary caregiver, I am concerned if his current care is appropriate for his condition. Can you please tell me what the difference is between hospice and palliative care? Thank you.
Hospice and palliative care differ in terms of goals, patients, where care is delivered, and who provides the care.
Hospice is a special healthcare option for patients and families faced with a terminal illness (prognosis of 6 months or less). It is appropriate when active treatment is no longer effective and supportive measures are needed to help the terminally ill patient through the dying process. The goals of hospice include: controlling or alleviating the patient’s symptoms; allowing the patient and caregiver to be involved in the decisions regarding the plan of care; providing continuous support to maintain patient/family confidences and reassurances to achieve these goals; and educating and supporting the primary caregiver. Most hospice care happens at home but it can also take place in a setting that best meets the needs of each patient and family: at a hospice center, in a hospital, or in a skilled nursing facility. A multi-disciplinary team of physician, nurses, hospice or home health aides, therapists (as needed), social workers, clergy or bereavement counselors and volunteers works together to address the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of each patient and family. The team coordinates and supervises all care around-the-clock.
Palliative care is a special form of medical care that helps patients feel relief from the pain, symptoms, and emotional distress caused by a serious illness or its treatment. This is much more than just “comfort care.” The goal of palliative care is to improve how a patient functions each day as well as improve his or her quality of life throughout the course of a serious illness. Palliative care can be used along with treatments meant to cure; it is usually given in hospitals. Sometimes it takes place at nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Palliative care at home is possible but not readily available. Palliative care is a medical subspecialty. This means that doctors and nurses who practice palliative care have extra training about ways to manage symptoms. They work with a team of other professionals.
For more information, please check out http://www.pamf.org/palliativecare/what/.
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