Comparing These Medical Services Can Help You Choose Which Is Best for You or Your Loved One
Hospice and palliative care are commonly confused healthcare services. They both address specific care needs that patients are likely to require throughout their lifetimes, but a fundamental difference between them is important to understand when determining the level of care you or your loved one need.
Keep reading to learn how these medical services vary, who is eligible for them, and how to locate services in your area.
Who Receives Palliative Care?
Palliative care is for patients living with a chronic, life-limiting illness, with symptoms that affect their daily lives. Illnesses can include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, congestive heart failure or other cardiac disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and more. Palliative care is available for patients at any stage of their illness, including those pursuing aggressive treatment.
A physician order is not necessary to begin services. Insurance often covers the cost of palliative care services. However, patients in certain areas of Missouri and Kansas can receive care at no cost through Phoenix Home Care & Hospice.
Who Is Eligible for Hospice Care?
Patients with a terminal illness or those who no longer wish to continue treatment for their life-limiting illness can receive hospice care. Generally, they can begin hospice when their prognosis is six months or fewer. However, some hospice agencies will care for patients with a more extended prognosis.
A physician order is necessary to begin care. Medicare and most insurance plans fully cover hospice costs.
What Are the Goals of Palliative Care?
Ultimately, the goal of palliative care – sometimes called comprehensive disease management – is to improve the patient’s quality of life and help them manage their illness.
Palliative care helps patients navigate the complex world of healthcare as they live with their chronic or life-limiting illness, while offering symptom relief, including pain management.
What Are the Goals of Hospice?
Hospice care is designed to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of the patient and their family.
Hospice focuses on ensuring the highest quality of life through comfort care for the duration of a patient’s terminal illness.
What Services Does Palliative Care Include?
Palliative care programs can coordinate with patients’ physicians to maximize symptom management and designate a team to provide support and address questions or concerns from the patient and their close family members who may serve as caregivers.
Palliative care providers also provide assistance and resources for advance care planning, such as Durable Power of Attorney or advance directives, which outline your preferences for medical care. A medical social worker can also help patients connect with community resources, including Meals on Wheels, financial assistance organizations, transportation, and more.
What Services Does Hospice Care Include?
Hospice care provides a variety of services meant to address and manage symptoms of terminal illness, as well as support the patient’s family. A hospice nurse coordinates all care, including collaborating with a supervising physician, medical social workers, home health aides for help with bathing and hygiene, volunteers, and chaplains.
Medical equipment and supplies are included in hospice care, and a patient’s medical team is available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. It also includes bereavement help, respite care for family caregivers, and coordinating with funeral homes.
Can I Receive Both Types of Care at the Same Time?
Patients cannot receive both hospice and palliative care at the same time, due to the nature of the services. Hospice is the natural next step after palliative care in the full continuum of care patients require throughout their lives.
However, patients of either service line may receive another combination of services, which includes private duty care and ancillary services like physical and occupational therapy.
How Do I Know When It’s Time for Hospice or Palliative Care?
When it comes to managing a chronic disease, almost any time is the right time to receive palliative care. However, most patients request it when their illness worsens, when they’re making increased trips to the emergency room, or when they have major medication changes to manage.
Choosing hospice care is a personal decision. However, it is often more clear when a patient could benefit from hospice. Patients opt for hospice when they no longer wish to pursue treatment for life-limiting illnesses and wish to focus on comfort and quality of life instead. A patient may choose hospice when their symptoms worsen, or the illness can no longer be treated.
Is Palliative Care or Hospice Right for Me?
The best way to determine whether hospice or palliative care could be helpful for you or a loved one is to talk to your doctor or a local hospice or palliative care provider. By speaking directly to experts, you’ll learn more about the services available to you and get answers to your most pressing questions.
It’s important that you get the care you need as soon as you need it, so contact an agency right away.