What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

September 28, 2023 Homecare Services, Palliative care

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Hospice care and palliative care both aim to provide better quality of life and relief from symptoms and side effects for people with a serious illness. Patients who require palliative or hospice care have a team that meets their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. Hospice care can often include palliative care but they are both very different.

How do these forms of care differ?

When care is given: Palliative care is available and provided at any stage of a serious illness, majority of the time following diagnosis. Nurses and carers can intervene at any stage of this type of care, even through active treatment such as radiation or chemo. Hospice care is only offered to patients during their last phase of an incurable illness or when they are near end of life. “Treatment” during hospice care involves managing symptoms and side effects. A patient’s hospice care team coordinates with the patient’s medical team directly whilst a palliative care team is separate from a patient’s medical care team. Let’s take a look at both forms of care in more depth.

Palliative careanimation of a patient and a carer

Palliative care is care for patients that are terminally ill that is provided by a health care professional. You may have heard the term but not known exactly what this involves.

There are a wide range of illnesses where palliative care can be offered. These include heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, lung disease, dementia and HIV. When patients are receiving palliative care treatment, they can remain under the care of their regular health care provider and still receive treatment for their disease. A typical palliative care team are combined of a group of doctors and nurses. Depending on your situation there may be additional health care providers such as registered dietitians and psychologists within your care team.

Where can people access palliative care?

Palliative care is provided where the person and their family wants, where possible. It is not exclusively locked into a clinical or hospital setting.

This may include:

  • At home
  • In hospital
  • In a hospice
  • In a residential aged care facility

Differences between palliative hospital care and home care

  • Palliative hospital care: This happens in a hospital or hospice setting, where patients receive specialized medical care.
  • Home care: This occurs in the patient’s own home, focusing on providing comfort and support in familiar surroundings.

Both types of care aim to provide comfort, symptom management, and emotional support to individuals with life-limiting conditions. The choice between hospital care and home care should be based on the patient’s specific needs and preferences, as well as the available resources and support from healthcare professionals and caregivers

What is hospice care?

hospice or hospital bed

Hospice care is a unique form of care that focuses on the quality of life for people and their caregivers who are experiencing an advanced, life-limiting illness. This form of care is introduced when a disease, such as advanced cancer, gets to the point when treatment can no longer cure or control it. Nurses and carers within this field care for their patients rather the illness. They seek that the patient is as comfortable as possible, treating their symptoms, so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones.

Where is hospice care provided?

When it comes to hospice care there is no specific place that any patient is tied to. There are two options, at home or in a care facility such as a nursing home, hospital or even a hospice centre. A member of the patient’s hospice team will visit regularly, and someone is usually available by phone 24 hours a day. Everyone works together with the person who is sick, the caregiver, and/or the family to provide the medical, emotional, and spiritual support needed.

What is palliative home care?

girl on a sofa with a woman by her feet

Palliative home care is a type of healthcare service that provides comprehensive and compassionate support to individuals with life-limiting illnesses or conditions in the comfort of their own homes. It aims to enhance the quality of life for patients and their families by addressing their physical, emotional, and social needs, taking into consideration the 5 stages of palliative care.

Palliative home care may include pain management, symptom control, emotional support, and assistance with activities of daily living to ensure that patients can live as comfortably and peacefully as possible in their familiar home environment. This approach allows patients to receive care while staying connected with their loved ones and maintaining a sense of independence and autonomy.

Who can benefit?

Some examples of conditions that can be helped by palliative care include:

  • Cancer: Patients with advanced or terminal cancer often receive palliative care to manage pain, alleviate symptoms, and improve their quality of life during treatment and in their final stages.
  • Heart failure: Palliative care can help individuals with congestive heart failure by addressing symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, and pain, and by providing emotional support.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Patients with severe COPD may receive palliative care to manage symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, and anxiety.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Palliative care can assist in managing the progressive symptoms of ALS, such as muscle weakness and respiratory issues.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias: Individuals in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s or other dementias can benefit from palliative care to address behavioural and psychological symptoms and improve their overall well-being.
  • HIV/AIDS: Palliative care can help manage the symptoms and complications of HIV/AIDS, as well as provide support for the emotional and social aspects of the disease.
  • Kidney disease: Individuals with end-stage kidney disease who are not eligible for or choose not to undergo dialysis can receive palliative care to manage symptoms and maintain comfort.
  • Neurological disorders: Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease may benefit from palliative care to address physical and emotional challenges.
  • Congenital disorders: Palliative care is provided to individuals with congenital or genetic disorders to enhance their quality of life and offer support to their families.
  • Serious paediatric illnesses: Children with life-limiting conditions such as paediatric cancer, genetic disorders, or severe congenital anomalies may receive palliative care to alleviate symptoms and support their families.
  • Heart disease: Palliative care can help individuals with advanced heart disease manage their symptoms and address emotional and social concerns.
  • Liver disease: Patients with end-stage liver disease may benefit from palliative care to manage symptoms, improve comfort, and address complex medical issues.

Palliative care is not limited to these conditions and can be tailored to the specific needs and goals of each patient. Its primary focus is on improving the overall quality of life for individuals facing serious illnesses and providing support to their families throughout the illness journey.

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

At Cavendish Homecare we are experts in providing palliative homecare and hospice care for individuals with terminal illnesses who want to remain in their own homes. We work to support the patients and their families with sensitive and comforting care.

Why choose us?

We understand that at such a stressful and sensitive time specialist nursing care and trustworthy support can make a huge difference during palliative and hospice care. Our team of homecare managers, registered nurses and carers have a wealth of care experience and are experts at providing practical and emotional support and care for the patient and their families.

All our private homecare are personalised to suit specific needs. If you would like to discuss your palliative and hospice care needs and potential costs, please contact one of our experts, who will be happy to help.

To read more about palliative care, take a look at these blogs Questions about end of life care, What does end of life care mean? and Palliative care for patients with COVID-19.