When dealing with life-limiting illnesses, patients and their families can consider two concepts of care depending on their specific stage of disease: palliative care and hospice. What is the difference between hospice care vs palliative care, and how can you tell which one is appropriate in your loved one’s case?
Hospice Care Vs Palliative Care
First, it is important to understand the definitions of these two terms.
Hospice care is a compassionate type of comfort care given to patients who have a terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less to live if their disease runs its expected course. It is not curative.
Palliative care is a compassionate type of comfort care that aims to relieve the physical and mental symptoms of serious or life-limiting illnesses. It can help people with a serious illness feel better by preventing or treating the symptoms and side effects of their disease and its treatment.
Although it is not curative on its own, it can be pursued by patients at diagnosis, while undergoing curative treatment, or at the end of their life.
Both of these types of care are delivered by care teams that work together with the patient’s physicians to address their physical, spiritual and emotional pain, and they also provide support to the patient’s families. They can both reduce stress, help with physical and psychosocial issues, and provide complex symptom relief for those with serious illnesses.
Here is a look at some of the aspects in which these two types of care differ:
Both hospice and palliative care are aimed at relieving pain and symptoms in patients who have life-limiting diseases. However, the goals of care tend to be different.
Hospice care provides comfort care without any curative intent. When a patient enters hospice, they no longer have any curative options or have chosen not to pursue them because the side effects of treatment outweigh the benefits.
Palliative care, in contrast, offers comfort care either with or without curative intent. For example, patients who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer may elect to get palliative services at the same time as curative treatment to alleviate their symptoms.
Hospice is 100 percent covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most types of private insurance. Hospice is the only benefit under Medicare that includes medication, equipment, nursing, chaplain visits, grief support, nursing, and around-the-clock access to care.
The coverage for palliative care can vary depending on the patient’s insurance plan and the provider of the care. In some cases, Medicare Part B and Medicaid may cover certain types of palliative care, but patients may be responsible for some co-pays. The Department of Veterans Affairs may cover palliative care for veterans in some cases.
To be eligible for hospice care, two physicians must certify that the patient is expected to live for six months or less if their disease follows its normal course.
Palliative care can begin any time a patient or their physician chooses, regardless of their current stage of illness and whether their illness is terminal or not.
Location Of Care
Hospice care is typically delivered at a patient’s home or a home-like hospice residence. Patients who live at assisted living facilities, nursing homes or veterans’ facilities may receive their care in these locations.
Although hospice provides patients with a lot of support, their day-to-day care is often provided by their family and friends. Hospice teams coach family members on how best to care for their loved ones and provide respite care when they need a break.
Palliative care teams generally work in hospitals, although palliative care can also be received in outpatient palliative care clinics, nursing homes, or at home.
Which Option Is Right?
Anyone who is living with a serious illness such as cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can benefit from palliative care at any stage of their illness.
In addition to helping them enjoy a better quality of life and manage their symptoms, it can help patients understand the choices they have when it comes to medical treatment. It does not depend on prognosis and can be received alongside curative treatment.
Some patients with serious illnesses might reach a point where a cure is no longer possible or they do not wish to continue with treatment. When a patient is not expected to live beyond six months, hospice is the most appropriate choice. It provides many of the same comfort care elements as palliative care but attempts to cure the illness are discontinued.
Contact The Harbor Light Hospice Team For More Info On Hospice Care Vs Palliative Care
If you or a loved one are facing a life-limiting illness, reach out to Harbor Light Hospice to find out how their services can help you enjoy the highest quality of life possible.