If you or a loved one has been in a hospital for a significant amount of time, you’ve likely heard the terms “palliative care” and “hospice care.” But what exactly are these services and how do they differ? We’ll dive into that here. Both services are focused on the care and comfort of a patient, but there are nonetheless distinctions between them.
What is Hospice Care?
This service is often referred to as end-of-life care, as it is typically a service provided when a terminally ill patient has six months or less to live. The role of a hospice team is to provide the highest quality of life possible for patients who need it most. Hospice care is not focused on treating symptoms or curing a disease but is instead intended to help a patient’s family address their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Hospice care can take place either at a patient’s home or in a professional care environment. The most common level of care is routine home care, which includes nursing and the assistance of a home health aide. Hospice also encompasses continuous home care, general inpatient care and respite care.
Whatever the level of need, hospice care is a team effort. Doctors, nurses, aides, chaplains, social workers and mental health counselors may all be involved. Every team member plays a vital role in providing a high quality of life.
What is Palliative Care?
Much like hospice, palliative care is all about improving the quality of life of a patient. But palliative care begins as soon as a patient is diagnosed with a disease rather than during the final six months of life. Palliative care is typically established to help prevent and treat the symptoms and side effects of a disease, and treatment and is designed to target the emotional, social, practical and spiritual elements of the patient.
Palliative care works in conjunction with the patient’s regular care provider, whose role is to treat the disease. The regular care provider often recommends specialized palliative care professionals.
The idea behind palliative care is that some illnesses and their treatments are especially taxing. Diseases such as cancer, AIDS and ALS as well as their treatments not only produce painful and debilitating physical effects but can also trigger anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. That’s where palliative care can help supplement the treatment of the core disease by tackling all of the ancillary issues that come from diagnosis and treatment.
Just as with hospice, palliative care is a team effort. From pharmacist to counselor, a tandem of medical professionals work toward increasing the patient’s quality of life.
See how Oasis fits into the patient care cycle by calling your nearest Advisor.