Hospice vs. Palliative Care: What are the Differences?
The term ‘hospice’ scares a lot of people when they hear the word. I understand, one of the reasons I started working for hospice is because my grandfather passed away when I was a little girl, and our family utilized hospice services. When I was eight years old, I did not understand or appreciate the hospice team. I was angry that my grandpa was dying from cancer, and I did not want to talk to strangers, or anyone for that matter, about it. Looking back now, the hospice team is the glue that kept my family together during that difficult time which is why I chose to pursue a career in it.
What is Hospice?
Hospice is a discipline of care for patients who have life-limiting illnesses. Hospice care focuses on comfort for the patients and offers a range of services to help patients toward the end of their life. The hospice team, which consists of a physician, registered nurses, home health aides, social workers, and spiritual counselors, has an approach that focuses on creating a detailed care plan that treats each patient based on their unique, mental, and spiritual needs. Both patients and their families benefit from a wide range of resources designed to help provide the needed assistance during this time of life.
When is Hospice needed?
A person should utilize hospice services when a patient’s life expectancy is limited, and they and their family decide comfort is the goal. Hospice is best considered when the quality of life is lessened due to an ongoing state of care or treatment not projected to help the patient live longer or more comfortably. Hospice should be utilized when a patient’s quality of life outweighs the quantity of life.
What is Palliative Care?
The terms palliative care and hospice are often confused because they tend to be used interchangeably. Hospice care and palliative care are two different programs. When patients elect to utilize hospice care, they are no longer seeking aggressive treatment for their disease. Palliative care is a program to help individuals living with chronic illnesses (i.e., cancer, COPD, congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease) achieve the best quality of life.
While palliative care patients seek aggressive treatment for their disease, the palliative care team helps the patient navigate and best utilize the healthcare system. The goal of palliative care is to help educate patients and families on their specific disease and what the disease process may look like.
I understand that these are very big and scary decisions to make, but it is the goal of hospice organizations to guide and assist you with making the decisions that will help you achieve the outcomes you desire. The best care is rooted in the passion for helping others; when this dedication is combined with the right skills and experience, something special happens. I aim to create the perfect blend of these traits to enrich the lives of our patients, their families, and our associates.
About the Author:
Ashlea Hyland is a Hospice Liaison with Silverado Hospice. She started as an intern in 2015 while finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Gerontology. She has held several positions within Silverado before becoming a Hospice Liaison, but her passion is educating patients and families on proper end of life care.