Patients facing a serious or life-limiting illness may sometimes be offered hospice care, palliative care or both. The terms are often confused. A lack of understanding can make the conversation around these topics emotionally fraught. Hospice care and palliative care are different in a few key ways. Here is an overview of the two:
- Hospice care may be offered to patients whose prognosis is six months or less assuming their disease follows its expected course.
- Hospice care is provided only to patients who are no longer pursuing curative care. This might occur when the patient is no longer receiving any benefit from active treatment, or the patient has decided that he or she no longer wishes to undergo treatment.
- Hospice care is often provided at home or in a nursing home, but there are some residential hospices as well as hospital beds designated for hospice patients.
- If you no longer want to receive hospice or your prognosis changes you can discontinue hospice care at any time.
- Hospice care is generally covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.
- Palliative care may be provided to patients at any stage of the disease process, regardless of the prognosis.
- Palliative care is focused on alleviating the pain and addressing quality of life issues that occur with serious illness. It may be provided to patients who are on hospice, or those who are continuing to receive curative treatment.
- Palliative care may be provided in the hospital, at home or in a long-term care facility, or in the doctor’s office.
- Aspects of palliative care, including physician visits and prescription medications, may be covered by private insurance.
- Both hospice and palliative care involve multidisciplinary teams of professionals, often including physicians, nurses, social workers, pain management specialists, and spiritual care personnel.
- Both hospice and palliative care focus on the patient as well as the family unit.
If you or a loved one are facing a serious illness, hospice care or palliative care may be beneficial. Care Answered can help you understand and select the most appropriate care during a stressful time. For additional information, give us a call or contact us via email.