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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.

November is Palliative Care Month

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. The Center to Advance Palliative Care defines palliative care as “specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.” It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness, regardless of their diagnosis, at any age and any stage, and it helps patients and families manage the gradual transition from cure focused treatment to comfort-focused treatment over the duration of the illness. Palliative care is not synonymous with hospice or end-of-life care but it shares many of the same principles.

One of the main principles of palliative care is teamwork across disciplines. Physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, psychologists, and others work as a team to identify and effectively treat the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. Teams meet with patients and surrogate decision-makers to establish the goals of care, support families in crisis and plan for safe transitions from the hospital to other care sites. When this teamwork happens along with other principles of palliative care studies show improved survival and quality of life, reduced avoidable suffering and distress, and reduced hospital re-admissions.

When these and other challenges are addressed by palliative care teamwork, The Center to Advance Palliative Care says patients’ physical and psychosocial symptoms improve, family caregiver well-being improves, and patient, family and physician satisfaction improves.

During National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, remember the value of teamwork. Recognize the contribution of other disciplines. Teamwork is always essential, but especially when it comes to caring for patients with a serious illness. CCMH is proud to offer both Home Health and Hospice Services as well as Chaplaincy Services to support our patients with Palliative Care needs.

CCMH Home Health & Hospice

CCMH Chaplaincy Services