Understanding the Difference Between Palliative Care & Hospice

If you or your loved one have been recently diagnosed with a serious illness, then you may have been hearing terms like “palliative care” and “hospice care” regarding treatment.

These terms are often used interchangeably–but, while they do have some similarities, they are two different types of treatments.

The Similarities Between Hospice & Palliative Care

Both programs offer specialized care for chronically ill people to improve their quality of life and ease their suffering.

Palliative care and hospice also both help with any physical, emotional, and spiritual needs you may have during your treatment. However, both programs have distinct qualities that meet the needs of specific individuals.

Palliative Care vs Hospice


Palliative care is a program designed to help clients with severe illness ease their pain and to work towards finding them a cure.

Individuals undergoing palliative care could be facing diseases such as cancer, heart failure, AIDS, dementia, and other non-immediate life-threatening conditions.

It is best to begin palliative care at the point of diagnosis. A palliative care consultation team is made up of doctors, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, and chaplains.

During this course of treatment, a palliative care team will provide patients with care for their symptoms as well as guidance to understand their choices for medical treatment.

Palliative care can be given in a variety of places including hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and at the patient’s place of residence. Additionally, it is important to note that Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance policies may cover parts of your care.

In palliative care, you continue with the treatment for as long as possible to achieve a cure. There may come a time, though, when the doctor and the palliative care team may believe that treatment is no longer working, or the patient does not wish to continue treatment. This is when it is necessary to readjust the care plan, and one option would be hospice care.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is a program for individuals who will likely pass away in the next six months. Like palliative care, hospice continues to provide comfort care and support for the patient and their family, but they no longer attempt to cure their patient’s illness.

Hospice is becoming a popular option for those who wish to spend the rest of their lives comfortable and dignified. Clients can spend their last few months with hospice professionals, helping clients and their families cope with the challenges of a terminal illness.

Hospice can be provided in any location from an inpatient hospital to your own home. Services usually include 24/7 call support, weekly visits from your hospice team, pain management, and support services such as music therapy, pet therapy, and more.

In addition, hospice care also provides emotional and spiritual support for clients and their families as well as bereavement support for the client’s family after their death.

Deciding Which Treatment is Right For You

As a recap, palliative care is offered to anyone with a serious illness. Their symptoms will be treated, and they will also receive treatments to cure their illness. Individuals undergoing this kind of care will be treated for as long as their needs demand.

Hospice care, on the other hand, is only offered to those whom doctors believe will pass within six months. Their symptoms will be treated, but they will not receive further treatment for curing their illness. Care will continue as long as the client meets the hospice criteria of life expectancy lasting for months.

It is essential to consult your doctor about which option is best. This is a serious decision, so it may be wise to seek a second opinion.

Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.