Palliative Care vs. Hospice: Know the Difference
Published July 24, 2020
When your loved one is struck with a severe illness, you hear the terms “palliative” and “hospice.” The essence of the two appears quite similar. But it’s vital to educate yourself on the difference between the two, so you’ll know which treatment is best for your loved one.
In this article, we’ll be comparing the two treatments side-by-side to show you where they’re alike and where they differ.
What is the purpose of both palliative and hospice care?
While everything within hospice care can be palliative, not everything palliative is hospice. Both of these treatments are meant to provide comfort by preventing and relieving symptoms of a severe illness. The following are examples of what falls under severe illnesses:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Kidney failure
You can see that if these illnesses are not treated correctly, they could lead to severe complications, if not death. Both palliative and hospice care are dedicated to keeping the patient as comfortable as possible. Treatment ranges from treating physiological needs to emotional and even spiritual.
Palliative care also entails help in making decisions about medical treatment for said illness. Hospice care, however, includes advice in making end-of-life decisions. This includes choices post-death regarding how they want their body to be taken care of and their last will.
Another difference between them is that palliative care provides life-prolonging treatments. Patients usually enter into hospice care because they forego life-prolonging treatments, focusing more on quality of life.
It’s worth noting that these two treatments do not directly treat the patient’s disease. They aren’t there to replace aggressive medical treatment. Instead, their purpose is to improve the patient’s quality of life.
When are these two treatments provided?
This is where the two treatments significantly differ.
A patient can get palliative care even while they’re getting curative treatment for their illness. You could say that palliative care is supplementary to the curative treatment they’re receiving for their acute illness. You are eligible to receive palliative care as soon as you receive a diagnosis of a severe illness. However, if your disease does worsen to become untreatable, you could progress from palliative to hospice.
Contrary to that, a patient can only access hospice care after curative medical treatment. That doesn’t mean they can’t go back to receiving treatment for their illness, but these two cannot happen simultaneously. Additionally, a patient can only receive hospice if their diagnosis is a terminal one. Terminal, in most states, is defined as having less than six months to live.
Who provides the two treatments?
Both treatments require a multi-disciplinary team to administer the treatments. The team would generally consist of:
- A team of doctors
- Nurse and nurse practitioners
- Social workers
- Members of the clergy
This applies to both hospice and palliative care since both require a holistic approach in dealing with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Where can you receive the treatments?
Depending on where you live, you can receive both treatments in practically the same places. For palliative care, you may avail of it at home, a hospital, or an outpatient clinic.
For hospice, you would generally receive it in your home, a nursing home, a hospital, or a hospice facility.
Does my private insurance or Medicaid cover the costs of the treatments?
For palliative care, you may receive some coverage from Medicaid and private insurance companies. This would depend on the different treatments you receive.
As for hospice, Medicaid fully covers the cost of it as long as you are eligible.
Should I be getting palliative or hospice care for my loved one?
The simple answer is yes. These two treatments will significantly improve the patient’s quality of life. If your loved one’s insurance or Medicaid covers palliative care, they should opt for it. In the same way, if your loved one is eligible for hospice, you should talk to them about it. Ultimately, it would be best to weigh their decision with the doctor’s advice to come up with the best course of action.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.