If you have a loved one who is living with a chronic or debilitating illness, you have probably have heard of ‘palliative care’ and ‘hospice care’, and may have simply assumed they were the same thing. That said, you might be surprised to discover, however, that these concepts are actually two very distinct approaches to treating and managing someone’s pain and their symptoms of illness. In fact, while both hospice and palliative care offer compassionate care for patients, both differ in regard to their primary focus, how, where and when they are used in health care process, and even how they are paid for. In this article, read more about the difference between palliative care and hospice care, and find out which is most appropriate for your loved one.
Palliative Care: What Is It?
The primary focus on palliative care is relieving the symptoms of a patient’s condition while they receive active treatment throughout the phases of their condition. Palliative care is available for all kinds of patients suffering a life-limiting illness, regardless of their age, condition or stage of illness. While palliative care can be offered in the home, palliative care is commonly offered as a part of a comprehensive care program, alongside medical care, in an extended healthcare facility or nursing home.
Serving as a comprehensive approach to promoting the comfort and well-being of patients, palliative care focuses on attending to a patient’s holistic needs as well as their physical ailments. In this way, palliative care assesses and addresses the physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of a patient and their families. Moreover, palliative care services can be offered alongside remedial care or hospice care to address the physical and emotional side-effects of treatment, and to ensure that your loved one receives the care and attention he or she deserves.
Hospice Care: What Is It?
In contrast to palliative care, hospice care is primary for patients who have less than six months left to live, and is tailored to assist them in managing their pain and discomfort, while helping their family transition and prepare for their end of life. In addition to managing a patient’s symptoms, hospice care may assist with a patient and their caregivers with other necessary activities, such as bathing and dressing, or meal-prep. Once registered by their primary care physician, hospice care is usually administered to the patient at home, while supervised by a team of hospice care experts. While hospice can provide care 24 hours a day in a nursing home or hospice facility, hospice care in the home is much more common.
Keep in mind that while all hospice care is considered palliative, not all palliative care is considered hospice. A patient can transition from palliative care to hospice care when their physical symptoms become too difficult to manage by their regular caregivers, requiring more regular visits from a professional care team. As such, hospice care teams provide compassionate support to hospice patients by enhancing their comfort and providing anticipatory guidance throughout the end-of-life process. Moreover, in an effort to support everyone involved, hospice care can provide support and bereavement services to a patient’s family leading up to, and after their loved one’s death.
Palliative vs. Hospice Care: Timing & Medical Coverage
As mentioned above, there are no time restrictions on palliative care. Palliative care is for all patients, at any time or stage of their illness, regardless of if it is terminal or not. Hospice care, in contrast, is reserved for terminally ill patients who have 6 months or less to live, assuming their disease takes it’s normal course. In fact, Medicare and Medicaid typically require a referral from a patient’s primary physician to confirm that treatment is no longer a viable option for the patient to begin to receive the benefits of hospice care.
Palliative care is often paid for by one’s regular medical insurance, however it can also be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies. Keep in mind, however, that each item will be billed separately, just as they are with regular hospital and doctor visits. For more details, check with your insurance company, doctor, or palliative care provider.
Hospice care, by comparison, is usually paid for in full by the Medicare Hospice Benefit program or by Medicaid Hospice Benefit. In addition, the Veteran’s Administration and most health insurance companies also cover hospice care services, either in full or with minimal co-pays. Keep in mind: while most hospice programs cover all payments, insurance coverage can vary, so it’s always important to check your loved one’s policy limits for payments, before you consider hospice care.
Speak To Harbor Light Hospice For More Information
We hope this article has helped give you a better understanding of the differences between palliative and hospice care. For more information about the benefits of either program, or their differences, contact Harbor Light Hospice today.
Considering hospice care for your loved one? Harbor Light Hospice is a comprehensive hospice care program for all kinds of patients nearing their end of life. Our compassionate, supportive hospice care service teams can address your loved one’s needs holistically, while taking steps to help them make the most of what time they have left. Contact us today to find out more!