What is the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, palliative care and hospice are not the same things.

Palliative care is a specialized form of healthcare for individuals and families who are living with a life-limiting illness that is usually at an advanced stage. The goal of palliative care is to provide comfort and dignity for the person living with the illness, as well as the best quality of life for both this person and their family.

Some examples that involve 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

Hospice is a form of palliative care. Hospice care is offered to people suffering from a terminal illness approaching their last six months of living. In hospice, a specialized medical team provides care only to those with terminal conditions.

Hospice also means that while a person receives care to provide comfort and improve quality of life, treatment for the illness is not provided.

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

Palliative care can be provided at any time during the course of a serious illness, starting from the day of diagnosis. A palliative care team works with the patient, their family, and their healthcare providers to develop a plan that addresses medical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Palliative Care is most effective when started at the very beginning of treatment for an illness or at medical diagnosis. In fact, recent studies have shown that beginning palliative care as early as possible in the course of a disease, improves outcomes for patients and can even lengthen their lives.

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 independence, ease pain and other symptoms, and advocate for a person’s illness, quality of life, and spiritual wishes.

Deciding to receive hospice or palliative care can be a big undertaking. The Nurse Care Management team of Promyse Home care can provide a 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.

More Resources:

Benefits of Respite Care in a Retirement Home

Advanced Care Planning Waterloo Wellington

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