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The Difference between Palliative Care and Hospice

November is Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Help end the confusion by understanding what palliative care is and how it differs from hospice care.

Palliative care is a philosophy of caring for people with serious illness at any time in the disease trajectory. As a sub-specialty of palliative care, hospice focuses on caring for someone during their final months of life, but palliative care can begin much earlier, even while a patient is receiving treatment meant to cure the illness.

Living with a serious illness can be burdensome and distressing for patients and their loved ones.

Navigating healthcare decisions, not to mention the healthcare system itself, can be overwhelming.

Palliative care recognizes all of the needs a patient or family may have and provides personalized, supportive care that eases suffering and improves quality of life.

How does palliative care do this? Time, expertise, support, teamwork and coordination are some of the pillars of the palliative care approach. Time to devote to patient/family meetings. Expertise for managing complex physical and emotional symptoms. Support for resolving spiritual and ethical questions concerning goals of care. Teamwork from various disciplines such as physicians, nurses, social work, chaplaincy and more. And coordination of care transitions across healthcare settings.

Palliative care is a philosophy of care focused on providing relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of serious illness. Palliative care is also a medical specialty here at CCMH. It includes supportive care at any age and at any stage of the illness, even alongside curative treatments, and hospice care for a patient’s final months.