Ask the Care Expert about ... palliative and hospice care

Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA

As a new charge nurse I have been asked to set up palliative care for a new residents. What is the difference between palliative and hospice care? I am afraid I am mixing them up.

Hospice care and palliative care are similar when it comes to the most important issue for dying people: care. Most people have heard of hospice care, and have a good idea of what hospice does. 

Palliative care tries to help you with the resident's relief of symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, etc. The goal of palliative care is to address the whole person. This will help you give the resident the best quality of life possible.

Everyone is involved in the care, as it takes the entire team to see the whole person and meet ALL of the person's needs. Palliative care can be available in a number of places. These include hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term-care facilities, hospices or home. 

A person of any age can receive palliative care for any age and any stage of an illness. It also can be given along with a curative treatment.

Hospice is an important Medicare benefit that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients who may have only months to live. People who receive hospice are also no longer receiving curative treatment for their underlying disease. 

Where palliative care programs and hospice care programs differ greatly is in the care location, timing (as hospice is shorted in duration), payment (as Medicare assists with both types of treatment but bill differently) and eligibility for services.

If you want more information on
palliative care, visit https://getpalliativecare.org/whatis/faq/