Living Well: What’s the difference between hospice and palliative care?


November is National Hospice & Palliative Care Month


Q: What is palliative care? 

Kristine Cooper: Palliative care is an approach to patient care that is focused on comfort including physical, emotional and spiritual care. Patients may seek palliative care or palliation when they are suffering from a chronic illness, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are at the end of life.


What is hospice? 

KC: Hospice is palliative care for patients who have a life-limiting illness that they are no longer treating, and are expected to live six months or less. Medicare, Medicaid and many commercial insurances have hospice benefits available.

Hospice focuses on providing palliative care for patients’ pain and other symptoms as well as providing additional wrap-around services for emotional and spiritual needs.


What’s the difference between palliative care and hospice?

KC: Palliative care is the big umbrella of comfort care. Hospice falls under that umbrella as a type of palliative care. In other words, all hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice.

The main difference between hospice and palliative care is that hospice is provided for patients when patients are electing not to seek curative treatment. Palliative care can be provided in conjunction with curative treatments.


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