What is the Difference Between Hospice Care and Palliative Care?

When a loved one is seriously ill, you want them to be the most comfortable and content they can be. Finding the best care to provide for their needs and conditions is important.

When researching care options for your loved one, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the medical terminology regarding different services available. Whether you are focused on finding a cure for your loved one or simply providing the best comfort for them possible, it’s important to be educated on the differences of hospice and palliative care.


Understanding Hospice Care

When a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, hospice care provides emotional, spiritual and physical support throughout their journey and their family’s. Patients who choose hospice care must have a prognosis of six months or less and can be provided where the patient lives.

Difference Between Hospice Care and Palliative Care

The main aspect of hospice is to provide comfort, care and to promote fullness of life rather than seeking a cure. While choosing hospice may be a difficult decision at first, it is usually the best decision you can make for you or your loved one.

At WV Caring, we provide customized care to have everything you need for you and your loved one coordinated for your benefit.

Our hospice care assists in the following areas:

  • A program coordinated to care for the person with a terminal illness.
  • Using a team approach involving the patient, their doctor, a hospice nurse, clinical nursing aid (CNA), social worker, chaplain and volunteers.
  • Provide symptom management for physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • Services available on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Hospice care is covered through Medicare, Medicaid and most insurances which includes medications, equipment and supplies.
  • Bereavement support is provided to the family for 12 months following the death of a loved one.

Support For Your Family and Friends

Hospice provides more than comfort and care for the patient. It supports the caregivers and family with education to confidently care for their loved one through the final journey; and, helps the family to make the best choices at end-of-life. When death comes, hospice continues to care for the family with grief and loss support for a year.

Understanding Palliative Care

While hospice is for patients with a terminal illness, palliative care is provided to the patient at any time within the diagnosis of a serious illness. Palliative care mainly focuses on symptom management to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family.

Some of the most common illnesses that patients suffer from in palliative care are cancer, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The care given to these patients is to treat pain, nausea, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and other symptoms related to their condition that may make the patient uncomfortable.

To help you know if palliative care is right for you or your loved one, ask yourself the following questions to determine if it’s the right decision for you or someone close to you.

Is Palliative Care The Right Choice?

  • Do you have a serious illness such as congestive heart failure or COPD?
  • Have you, or someone close to you, experienced the following?
    • Difficult side effects from treatment
    • Frequent emergency room visits
    • Three or more admissions to the hospital within 12 months, with recurring symptoms
  • Do you experience such symptoms that impact your quality of life, such as:
    • Pain or discomfort
    • Anxiety
    • Lack of appetite

If you or a loved one is answering yes to many of these questions and the symptoms have not gone away within a long length of time, it may be the right choice to choose palliative care to relieve these issues.

The Key Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice

The biggest difference between hospice and palliative care is that hospice is reserved for people who are nearing the end of their life and meet the eligibility requirements. Palliative care is in the early stages of the illness where trained professionals help the patient bring relief to symptoms related to their illness.

Goals of Palliative Care

The primary goal of palliative care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Goals of Hospice Care

The primary goal of hospice is to relieve the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual suffering of our patients and those who care for them.


Hospice and Palliative Care Month

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month where professionals and hospice and palliative care organizations across the country are reaching to help people understand what these services have to offer. One of the goals for this is to have people understand that these services are not about giving up, but for providing the comfort of yourself or a loved one. For more information on hospice and palliative care, please go to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

WV Caring provides holistic care in the patient’s home to manage the physical, emotional and spiritual needs for the patient and the family. Your family member’s customized care is provided by a team that makes sure everything is coordinated for your benefit.

If you have any questions about our hospice or palliative care services or just want to talk, please give us a call at 1-866-656-9790, or visit us online at: wvcaring.org.