How Palliative Care and Hospice Differ
Quality of life matters. But for those suffering from severe illness, living well can be extremely difficult. Not only can illness inflict a patient with pain and weakness but so can the treatments for the illness. Many cancer patients, for instance, must deal with the physical toll of the disease and the harsh side effects of chemotherapy. Hospice and palliative care, however, can help patients improve their quality of life.
Both hospice and palliative care rely on medical professionals—such as nurse practitioners and other nurses with an MSN degree—to administer and monitor care designed to make patients more comfortable. But the two types of care are not the same and are designed for different types of patients. Here are the key differences between the two.
Difference in Purpose
Hospice care exists for those with a terminal illness who have months, rather than years, left to live. Care is focused on alleviating pain and helping patients prepare for the end of life. In most cases, patients cease life-prolonging treatment of their illness, particularly those treatments with harsh side effects. Instead of treating the illness, hospice nurses and other medical professionals work to ensure the patient’s physical comfort and emotional peace.
Palliative care is specifically focused on relieving the symptoms and stress of serious illness. A patient does not need to be terminal to receive palliative care. Likewise, palliative care patients often continue full treatment of their illness while in a palliative care program. In many cases, the medical team providing palliative care works directly with the medical team treating the illness.
Difference in Place
Most hospice patients undergo hospice care in their home or in the home of a loved one. Some patients choose hospice care facilities. In any case, hospice is designed to minimize medical intrusion and maximize a patient’s ability to enjoy what time he or she has left.
Most palliative care patients receive their care in a medical facility. Often, it is the same facility where they receive treatment for their illness. In addition to various methods of pain relief, patients may also receive emotional counseling and physical therapy to improve their quality of life.
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