Palliative care and hospice care are quite similar, which is why we are hoping to answer the question of “what is the difference between palliative care and hospice care?” by providing insight about each.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is a type of care in which the main goal is to keep a patient comfortable while dealing with a medical issue(s) that causes pain. Here are some of the key points in what distinguishes palliative care.
- Type of Care – the main goal of palliative care is comfort while managing or dealing with a medical issue or disease. Palliative may occur before hospice care.
- Place – while palliative care can take place in the home, it tends to begin in a place of treatment, at the beginning of treatment of a health problem. Most often it begins in a hospital or healthcare facility.
- Providers – a team of caregivers will combine together to oversee and provide palliative care; often including a physician, nurses, therapists, medical professionals and a trained caregiver.
- Time/Length of Care – palliative care can be offered throughout a person’s lifetime, more than once. The purpose is to treat a specific disease or health problem while ensuring comfort.
- Cost – palliative care most often occurs during in-patient services and will occur as part of your overall in-patient bill; usually itemized and covered by your major medical. If care moves into the home or an aftercare facility costs may be billed slightly different and not all inclusive (such as prescriptions, therapy, etc.).
What is hospice care?
While similar to palliative care, hospice care differs in some ways:
- Type of Care – the biggest difference between palliative care and hospice care is that hospice care is provided at the end of life. This type of care is offered to get the most out of the time a person has left, while focusing on being as comfortable and pain-free as possible.
- Place – Hospice care can occur anyplace that a patient is being cared for, including in-home or at a professional facility, as they live out their last days.
- Providers – Hospice care providers are trained specifically for end of life care and comfort; focusing on keeping the patient comfortable and the family prepared.
- Time/Length of Care – Unlike palliative care, hospice care occurs once at the end of life. Hospice care begins when a patient is thought to have 6 months or less to live.
- Cost – Most healthcare plans will cover hospice care with some limitations.
Please note that it is important to contact your insurance to be certain what is covered in terms of care. For more information on types of care the Caregivers National Library has a number of resources.
We want to make sure you understand the difference between palliative care and hospice care so that you are fully informed if you or someone you love is ever faced with the need.
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