There comes a time in some people’s life when some disease or injuries becomes incurable and the only option left is to suffer or carry on with the disease or injury. From then one, there are only two routes the individual who is suffering can follow, one is palliative care and other is the hospice. From the surface it might seem that both the form of care is similar but once you dig deep, you get to realize the difference. There are some basic misconceptions some people have on hospice and palliative care, firstly they are not similar, one is a form of care and the other is a government fund program.
What form of care a patient will choose depends on various factors such as the severe-ness of the patient’s condition, the type of medication the doctor has prescribed and most importantly what the patient wants. It is a universal truth that hospice care is always palliative care, but palliative care is not always hospice care (more information on this will be provided below in the discussion). Before jumping on the differences or similarities between hospice care and palliative care, it is mandatory to know what exactly these terms mean.
There is a special unit in the nursing field whose job is to only work with terminally ill patients or patients who are about to die very soon. They are called hospice nurses. Hospice nurses are specially trained to deal with terminally ill patients, while most of them are regular registered nurses, they have a special unique set of qualities that distinguishes them from the others. So basically treating the terminally ill patients is called hospice care.
This is basically the type of care that helps to improve the patient’s quality of life by providing relief to the illness or injury. This care does not necessarily cure a patient’s illness, this care is designed to provide a comfortable situation to a patient who is going through a serious illness. The purpose of the care form is to alleviate pain both physically and mentally by sedation/council etc. anything that is required by the patient or ordered by the doctor.
So what are the differences and similarities among them?
- Hospice care is a government funded program therefore it is completely free All medical charges related to the hospice care is given fully by the government, but to be eligible to be a hospice care patient, the patient must be terminally ill that means the patient has a limited time to live (generally less than 6 months), if the patient is said to be terminally ill by the doctor then the patient is eligible for free of cost medication of hospice.
On the other hand, palliative care patients don’t get such luxury , they often has to pay for themselves or by their family, but some private organizations provides support financially by offering to pay their medical bills but all in all it depends on the treatment plan, the severity of the illness and the relation with the organization. That’s health insurance is extremely important that is why always take a look into their policy and compare with other health insurance organizations and determine the best course of action.
- Hospice care is a government funded program and palliative care is a form of care. There are palliative care options in the hospice care as well. Some patients switch between hospice and palliative until they come to a conclusion as to which path to take.
- To qualify for hospice, you must be terminally ill and must have an estimation time of death. And you can qualify for palliative; you can take the form of care at any stage. It works better if it’s provided at the point of diagnoses.
- The patients are put into two types of settings, both mostly depended on the patient about what he or she actually wants. There is the home setting or the facility care setting (hospice care is done by nursing homes too), if it is tin the home like setting then nurses are appointed to assist the patient for the care and pass on peacefully. Those nurses usually take care of the patient in all sorts of ways from chores to administering medication. In the healthcare facilities, the patients get more opportunities and facility by the nurses and other healthcare members as there are large number of nurses and doctors roam around the facility. But most patients chooses the home like setting because of the emotional and spiritual attraction towards where they have been living for so long, plus they get to be by their family members as reports suggest that is how the patients find their inner peace, by being together with their closed ones in the remaining time if they have left.
- Since palliative care means to just provide comfort and relieve pain, there are optiotns to continue to receive treatments to cure illness as well. Curing and relieving are two different things so that is why it is easier to cure like this. But being in a hospice care means there is no healing anymore, what the patients have is an estimated time of death. So when the patients choose hospice it means there is no other option, there won’t be healing, they’ll be provided with all kinds of other necessary support too.
- The time duration for palliative and hospice is different, for palliative so the time duration depends on the care one needs and the insurance plan. And for hospice it will last as long as the patient is living, usually the hospice care doesn’t generally accept patients who have more than 6 months t live. Some people ask to know if the symptoms will be relieved or not, the answer is right. Both in hospice and palliative the symptoms will be relieved but there won’t be any further treatment process in hospice.
- Since palliative is a part of hospice care, all patients are treated palliativly.