Hospice care and palliative care are similar in the sense that they are both designed to achieve the same paramount objective – to offer care and comfort for patients who suffer from serious illnesses. The care typically extends to patients’ family and very close friends. The striking similarity between the two does not make them the same. They vary in some underlying concepts and structures. This extent of similarity and difference makes the question of hospice vs. palliative care to be one of the most confusing. This article compares the two.
By definition, hospice care offers mainly emotional and spiritual support as well as limited medical care to people who are in their last stages of a terminal illness. It also extends to family members or very close friends who need the courage to manage emotional challenges that arise from facing the death of a loved one. Therefore, it is considered in situations where curative treatment can no longer be applicable. Typically, a person is usually put under this type of care when he/she has six or less months to live.
On the other hand, palliative care is offered to people who suffer from serious illnesses in order to relieve and manage the symptoms that are associated with the illness. Although it also focuses on improving the quality of life, it differs from hospice care in the sense that it is not offered only towards the end of a patient’s life. It can be offered at any time of the illness and it also has a curative aspect.
Nature and scope of care
Hospice care is also referred to as end-of-life care. This phrase alone emphasizes its scope. It is meant to offer a comforting send off to a patient who is on the verge of death. The goal is to provide the dying person with dignity, comfort and peace and extending spiritual, psychological and a certain level of medical support. Although curative efforts are not made, caregivers usually ensure that symptoms that cause discomfort (such as pain) are controlled as much as possible.
Palliative care is different from hospice care in that apart from offering comfort and peace it also considers prolonging the life of a patient. This means that a patient who is under this kind of care is likely to undergo curative or treatment procedures such as therapies. In some cases, aggressive treatment techniques can be adapted in a bid to cure the patient.
Duration of the care
As it has been hinted in the definitions, hospice care is usually administered to people who have illnesses that can no longer be cured. Furthermore, it is targeted for those who have six or less months to live if the illness runs its normal course. However, this is not to say that if a patient exceeds the six months focus then he/she is kicked out of the care program.
On the contrary, palliative care does not have any time restrictions. It does not consider the amount of time that the patient still has to live. In fact, even patients who have the potential to live a very long life after diagnosis of the terminal illness are still eligible for palliative care.
Place of Administration
In many instances, caregivers of hospice patients try to ensure that the environment is as comfortable and homely as possible. This makes homes to be the best choices for the place of administering such care. The term home can refer to the actual home of the patient or a homely facility that is dedicated to providing hospice services. Such facilities are referred to as hospice centers. They have experts in nursing, medicine, psychology and home administration among other professions. This ensures that the patients’ stay is monitored and improved as much as possible.
Palliative care is a bit more detailed than hospice care. Although they might have similar professionals and facilities, the focus of palliative care has an aspect of curing. This makes hospitals and other medical institutions to be the best for administering this type of care so that practitioners can monitor the health standards of the patient effectively.
In sum, the question of hospice vs. palliative care can only be answered effectively if the factors that have been identified above are contrasted. However, regardless of the contrast, some people usually find it hard to accept the approaching end of a person’s life and this usually motivates them to opt for palliative care over hospice care since the former still gives a ray of light in terms of curative efforts.