While all hospice care is palliative care, not all palliative care is hospice care. Confusing, right? There are common misconceptions between the two and it’s important to understand how they differ. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care month and is a perfect opportunity to discuss the similarities and differences because, “It’s how you live”.
Where the two are similar is that both types of care focus improving the quality of life while relieving the patient’s pain and discomfort from their illness. The goal of such care is to treat the whole patient and the family, offering psychosocial and spiritual counseling when needed.
Hospice care begins after the decision has been made not to continue or start treatment. The focus is on treating the patient’s pain and discomfort rather then the disease during the final stages of an individual’s life. Research found that eight out of 10 Americans would prefer to be at home at the end of life and hospice can make that a reality for patients. Hospice care is not limited to just hospitals and homes, hospice care is also available in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and freestanding hospice centers.
A few of the misconceptions associated with Hospice:
- Misconception 1: There is a time limit when it comes to hospice service. While a patient is referred to hospice care when a doctor’s prognosis is six months or less, they can absolutely continue care if they live longer than 6 months.
- Misconception 2: If you choose hospice care, you can’t keep seeing your primary care physician: You have the option to keep your primary care physician for as long as you want. Hospice care provides you with an additional team of trained staff members to care for you.
Palliative care can begin at diagnosis and is focused on improving the quality of life for someone suffering from the symptoms of a serious illness, and/or the side effects of treatment while continuing active treatment Palliative care is most commonly defined as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief suffering”. It focuses on providing patients and families a strong understanding on all your treatment options and choices. From treating your symptoms, to the ongoing communication you receive with your medical team, palliative care will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness.
A few of the misconceptions associated with Palliative care:
- Misconception 1: Palliative care hastens death. Palliative care does not hasten death instead it provides the best quality of life after the diagnosis of an illness.
- Misconception 2: If I receive palliative care, I won’t receive treatment. Palliative care is given alongside of treatment which is one of the major differences between hospice and palliative care.
Both Hospice and Palliative care are meant to bring comfort to patients and their families. A healthcare professional’s goal is to give you or someone you love peace and comfort during difficult times. These services offer you or a loved one the quality and comfort of care they deserve. And remember, it’s all about how you live.