Palliative Care Versus Hospice Care

Palliative Care Versus Hospice Care


Being diagnosed with an illness can be hard to bear, especially when the illness in question is serious. Chronic illnesses are particularly challenging, as their curative processes often involve overwhelming side effects, pain, and discomforts. Occasionally, treatments might even prove abortive, resulting in the diagnosis of a terminal illness.

You might have heard about palliative and hospice care, two health care services that cater to the need to provide compassionate care for and increase the quality of life of patients with chronic or terminal illnesses. These care systems are so closely related that they are erroneously used as synonyms by many. The similarities are numerous, but the differences are also considerable and clear-cut.

Hospice care can be defined as the constellation of care given to a terminally ill patient who has been estimated by a physician to have about six months or less to live if the disease runs its expected course. Palliative care is the composite care provided to patients who have been diagnosed with serious illnesses – such as liver disease, kidney disease, heart failure, and so on – with a goal of relieving the physical and mental stress from symptoms, complications, and side effects of treatment associated with such conditions.


  • Eligibility:

Patients eligible for hospice have been certified by two or more physicians to have a prognosis of 6
months or less and are therefore in need of end-of-life care. 

For palliative care, eligibility is at the physician’s discretion, and the patient’s choosing, provided the patient has a serious health challenge. It may begin at the diagnosis of illness or during any of the other stages of treatment.

  • Relation to curative treatments:

All curative treatments and attempts at such would have been suspended before a patient commences hospice care. The most important goal is to provide as much comfort as possible during the end-of-life journey.

On the other hand, palliative care involves the optimization of pain control and general comfort while undergoing prolonged treatments aimed at curing the patient.

  • Payments plan:

Medicare covers the full cost of receiving hospice care. Medicare Part A plan, which funds hospice care, includes access to round-the-clock nursing, pharmaceuticals, grief support following a patient’s death, physical and occupational therapy, etc. However, copayments of no more than $5 for prescription drugs and 5% for respite care may be occasionally asked of you. Private insurance companies typically provide similar coverage.

Medicare and private insurance also cover palliative care, but it’s only partial payment. The amount of cover provided by insurance varies depending on the types of treatment received. Therefore, more significant out-of-pocket expense is required for palliative care.

  • Location for treatment:

Hospice care can be provided at home or in home-like settings such as hospice centers, nursing homes, and veteran centers.

Conversely, palliative care is usually provided in the hospital. However, it can also be provided in settings such as outpatient palliative care clinics, patient homes, or nursing homes.


  • Provision of compassionate care:

Both palliative care and hospice care function to provide optimal compassionate care to the patient in order to increase the level of comfort. They both aim to improve a patient’s quality of life irrespective of how much longer they have to live.

  • Reduction of stress:

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness, the likelihood is that you are experiencing an immense amount of physical, emotional, psychosocial, and perhaps even spiritual stress. The principles followed in hospice and palliative care both endeavor to relieve this stress. For example, issues such as loss of independence and fear of being a liability to one’s family are addressed.

  • Utilization of a multidisciplinary team:

The majority of patients qualifying for either palliative or hospice services tend to be in need of multidisciplinary care. Hence the teams of both services consist of professionals such as doctors, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, spiritual advisors, and so forth. The inputs of the various professionals are utilized according to the patient’s needs and requirements.

In conclusion, both hospice and palliative care are health care services that offer numerous benefits to their respective eligible patients. Such benefits could include pain control, avoidance of unnecessary procedures and medications as well as satisfying end-of-life care. For further clarifications, inquiries and information, do not hesitate to contact Hillside Hospice. We are a certified hospice agency, and you can rest assured that our priority is the comfort and satisfaction of our clients.

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