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  • Writer's pictureParish Nurse

Hospice vs. Palliative Care

Dear beloved church family,

The use of hospice and palliative care services continues to grow in the U.S. However, confusion about what the programs offer remains. The most important factor is the patient and family goals of care.

The terms hospice and palliative care are routinely confused. Palliative care is an umbrella term that captures a philosophy of care focused on providing comfort and maximizing quality of life from multiple perspectives that encompass physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization defines palliative care as patient and family-centered care that aims to maximize quality of life by “anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering”.

According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care, palliative care focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress related to a serious illness. Palliative care can be provided at any stage in the illness and can be given along with curative treatment. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for the patient and the family. Therefore, the real focus of palliative care is comfort for the patient.

When differentiating between hospice and palliative care, hospice and palliative care both focus on quality of life. However, reimbursement and admission criteria for the care are the distinguishing factors.

Hospice is not an actual place but rather a philosophy or approach to care with a goal of promoting quality of life in the midst of terminal illness. Hospice weaves together medicine, compassion, and caring in a quest for meaningful treatment of patients with terminal illness. Unlike palliative care, active curative therapies are not included in hospice care, because the goal of hospice care is not to cure disease but rather to provide comfort at the end of life. For this reason, criteria for someone to qualify for hospice care centers around a terminal diagnosis with a projected life expectancy of less than 6 months.

Information obtained on The article was written by Jennifer M.L. Stephens, MA, PhD, RN, OCN and Sooa Devereaux, MSN, RN-BC. Date of Most Recent Review : 8/13/2020

Abundant blessings to all,

Your Parish Nurse

Lilly Duncan RN

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