What Are Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

Palliative care and hospice care are similar care services. They are both focused on the patient’s needs and quality of life, including providing pain management and relieving symptoms.

Hospice care focuses on end of life care, whereas palliative care is meant for anyone who is living with an acute or chronic illness. Keep reading to learn more about the differences and similarities between palliative and hospice care so you can determine which one is right for your loved one.

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care, also called comfort care, is designed for patients who have serious acute or chronic illnesses. The illness does not need to be life-threatening.

The purpose of palliative care is to reduce stress, ease discomfort, relieve pain, and improve quality of life. Anyone who has a serious illness can receive palliative care services. Palliative care is provided in a hospital, nursing home, outpatient clinic, or at home.

Who Needs Palliative Care?

You should consider palliative care for yourself or a loved one if they have a serious illness or are experiencing side effects from treatment for an illness. You might consider palliative care for cancer, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, and other serious diseases.

When you undergo palliative care, you do not need to forego curative treatment. Some patients begin palliative care at the time they are diagnosed with an illness. In order to receive palliative care, you will need a referral from a specialist or your primary care doctor.

What Services Are Included in Palliative Care?

Palliative care services are meant to improve quality of life and relieve symptoms. The people who provide palliative care can also help the patient and their family and friends come to terms with the illness and understand their treatment options.

Palliative care services include pain and symptom management, medication administration, IV treatments, coordination of care with other members of your care team, developing a plan of care, going over financial solutions, assisting with advance care directives, providing access to support resources, and providing spiritual care.

Who Will Be Part of Your Palliative Care Team?

Your palliative care team will include many different medical professionals and healthcare providers who will work closely with you, your family, and the rest of your team.

This team will provide medical care, treatment, comfort care, and social, emotional, and practical support for you and your family. Your team will likely include specialists in palliative care, as well as medical assistants and nurses, caregivers, social workers, nutritionists, therapists, and spiritual advisors.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is end-of-life care for patients who have a serious or terminal illness and have a life expectancy of six months or less. The focus is to improve the quality of life when curative treatment is no longer wanted or viable.

Hospice care is typically not provided in a hospital, but it can be. Most of the time, hospice care services are provided in a nursing home, hospice care facility, or a private home.

The patient receives comfort care and support through the end stages of their life.

Who Needs Hospice Care?

Anyone who has been given a terminal diagnosis or has a serious illness with a life expectancy of six months or less can receive hospice care. Doctors often have a hard time making an accurate prediction about the lifespan of patients who are ill and elderly, so it’s possible that their estimate or assessment might be off.

A patient can enter and leave hospice care multiple times if their condition declines and improves. You must be referred to hospice care by a physician, but a physician can refer you multiple times if needed.

If you think you or a loved one is ready for hospice care, speak with your physician about your concerns.

What Services Are Included in Hospice Care?

Hospice care services include pain management, symptom management, support services, medications, grief support, referrals to resources and support services, assistance with advance directives and end of life documents, and spiritual care.

The patient will not receive any curative treatment, but will receive medication that relieves pain and improves comfort and quality of life.

Who Will Be Part of Your Hospice Care Team?

Your hospice care team will include medical specialists, including nurses, doctors, and medical assistants. It will also include social workers, trained caregivers, and spiritual advisors.

You will receive collaborative comfort care and medical, emotional, spiritual, and practical support. Your care team will work closely with you to ensure your symptoms and pain are managed carefully and that you still get the medical care you need for conditions like anxiety, high blood pressure, and other issues.

What Are the Benefits of Hospice Care vs. Palliative Care?

Both hospice care and palliative care services offer benefits to the patient and their family. Palliative care can improve quality of life, relieve pain and other symptoms, and help the patient get through treatment for their disease or illness.

Hospice care can improve the patient’s quality of life and relieve pain and discomfort in the end stages of their life. Both services can be provided in the comfort of your own home and according to your personal needs, goals, and preferences.

Both services offer support and referrals to resources that can help you make healthcare decisions, plan end of life care, and manage your grief and other emotions. Studies have shown that families of patients who have received hospice care are more satisfied with the level of care their loved one received than those who did not choose hospice care services.

Hospice patients are less likely to experience pain, undergo unnecessary tests, receive medication they don’t need, or experience increased discomfort than patients who did not choose hospice care.

How Do You Choose Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

Generally speaking, you should choose palliative care if you have a serious illness and you still want to receive curative treatment. You do not need to have a terminal illness and you can continue to receive medical care from your team.

You should choose hospice if you have a serious or terminal illness and a short time to live (six months or less), and no longer want to receive curative treatment.

Learn More About Palliative or Hospice Care

If you or a loved one needs palliative care or hospice care in Southern Arizona, our team at Placita In Home Care can help. We offer free referrals to inpatient palliative care and hospice care facilities, and we also offer in-home hospice care services in Tucson and the Phoenix metro areas.

Our compassionate, knowledgeable team will work closely with your family to understand your needs and goals and design a highly personalized care plan.

Our caregivers offer assistance with the tasks of daily living, personal hygiene, socialization, and companionship. We can also refer you to local support services such as bereavement counselors, spiritual support, social workers, psychologists, and therapists.

Call us today or contact us online to learn more about our in-home hospice care services or to schedule an appointment with us for a consultation.