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What Are the Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?
Dec 09, 2023

What Are the Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

When facing a life-threatening illness, the focus often shifts from cure to comfort. This is where palliative and hospice care come into play. These two types of care aim to provide relief from symptoms and stress, improve quality of life, and support patients and their families during difficult times. However, they are not the same, and understanding the difference can help individuals and families make informed decisions about their healthcare needs. Shiloh Hospice offers compassionate guidance to help you make the right choice.

An Overview of Palliative Care

Palliative care is a specialized form of medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Understanding Hospice Care

Hospice care, on the other hand, is a specific form of care that is designed to comfort patients who are nearing the end of life. Hospice care teams specialize in controlling pain and other symptoms so patients can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice care also provides emotional and spiritual support to patients and their families. The focus is not on curing the disease but on providing comfort and quality of life.

The Key Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care

While all hospice care is palliative, not all palliative care is hospice care. Palliative care spans the full course of an illness, from diagnosis to either recovery or end of life, while hospice care is typically reserved for when curative treatments are no longer working, or the patient has chosen to discontinue them.

Hospice care often involves a comprehensive team approach, including medical professionals, social workers, spiritual counselors, and volunteers. It also extends support to the family, offering grief counseling and help with navigating the practical aspects of life after a loss.

Palliative care, in contrast, can be received by patients at any time, at any stage of illness, whether it be terminal or not. It can be given alongside curative treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation, to manage symptoms and side effects.

Accessing Palliative and Hospice Care

When someone enrolls in hospice, they automatically receive palliative care. However, if you think you might benefit from palliative care outside of a hospice program, it’s best to ask your healthcare provider for a referral. Many hospitals now offer palliative care services, and many hospices have palliative care groups that operate separately from their hospice services.

The Importance of Hospice Care

Hospice care plays a critical role in ensuring a dignified, comfortable, and meaningful end-of-life experience for patients and their families. It offers an integrated, holistic approach to end-of-life care, addressing not only physical symptoms but also emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs.

Contact Us Today

Understanding the differences between palliative care and hospice care can help patients and families make more informed decisions about their healthcare options. Both provide essential support during a difficult time, but they do so in different ways and at different stages of illness. By understanding these differences, you can choose the right care at the right time for you or your loved one. At Shiloh Hospice, we are here to provide the support and guidance you need as you navigate these decisions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can serve you.




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