Hospice is a specialized type of care with a compassionate approach for those facing a life-limiting illness, as well as their families. Hospice care treats the whole person, with a focus on improving the quality of life that remains, rather than trying to cure the disease.
The hospice concept affirms life; it does not hasten or postpone death. The goal is to manage a patient’s pain and symptoms so that they may live each day as comfortably and fully as possible.
Through a team-oriented approach, hospice provides patients with expert medical care, pain management and symptom relief. In addition, emotional, spiritual, psychosocial and practical support is provided for both patients and families with questions or concerns at the end of life. The hospice care team is available 24 hours a day, 356 days a year.
As a service, hospice is provided in the place the patient calls home. This can be a private residence, a nursing home or residential facility, or at a contracted inpatient facility or hospital.
Hospice services also include:
- Medication for pain control and symptom management related to a patient’s terminal diagnosis
- Medical supplies for care
- Medical equipment, such as beds and oxygen
- Support with daily activities and personal care
- Education and assistance for caregivers
- Specialized therapy services, as needed
- Companionship and supportive community resources
- Bereavement services for loved ones.
Palliative care is a medical specialty centered on managing the physical and emotional impact of serious illness. It focuses on effective communication, coordination of care, and relief from pain, stress, and other debilitating symptoms.
It differs from hospice in that palliative care can be given at any time during a patient’s illness. Since it is not dependent on the prognosis, palliative care can be given while still pursuing a cure.