Palliative Care vs Hospice. What’s the difference between the two?
People sometimes confuse the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice. Both offer comfort for individuals with life-limiting illnesses or ailments. However, there are some key differences between the two. Understanding how each is different from the other can help caregivers and families with patients requiring either palliative care vs hospice care the chance to better choose their options for their loved ones and families.
What is Palliative Care and Hospice and how are they different?
Palliative care focuses on addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and offering compassionate care to patients who have life-limiting or terminal illnesses. Hospice, on the other hand, has palliative care as one of its components. It also focuses on addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients. However, unlike the combined focus of Palliative care on curative and active treatment of patients with life-limiting diseases, hospice usually handles patient management when treatment or curative approaches are no longer available. This usually happens during the last six (6) months of a patient’s life, especially if the course of the illness runs the course as described by a health care professional.
Both Palliative Care and Hospice also offer spiritual and psychological support to patients. They also do this for the families of patients, who are most probably devastated by the challenge of caring for a loved one who is terminally ill. Usually, though, Hospice treatments are accomplished in the patient’s home setting and that could cover the patient’s house itself, an apartment, a nursing home or assisted living facility. On the other hand, Palliative care is given in the patient’s home, apartment or during a short hospital stay or admission.
What are the Benefits of Palliative Care and Hospice?
As mentioned earlier, both palliative care and hospice are very similar and even related to each other. Hospice care even uses Palliative care as a component. As such, it is not surprising to see that both palliative care and hospice have similar benefits and advantages as well according to the World Health Organization. Listed below are some of these benefits.
Benefits of Palliative Care and Hospice
They provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
Aside from helping patients with terminal illnesses and life: limiting ailments, palliative care, and hospice can provide relief in terms of relieving the distressing symptoms usually experienced by patients caused by the mental stress and depression. This dual approach can help not only the physical symptoms of patients but also help in the mental wellness of sick and dying individuals.
They both affirm life and instill a view on the patients that death is just a part of the process
Both palliative care and hospice give a more practical and optimistic view for patients under their care in that they affirm life and view death as just being a part of the process in connection with the cycle of life. This approach makes the patient’s terminal illness more bearable and manageable in terms of psychological preparedness and mental toughness.
They intend to neither hasten death nor postpone it
The beauty and effectiveness of both palliative care and hospice care are that they both focus on managing the symptoms of the patient while at the same time handling the emotional distress of patients. This potent combination of physical and mental assistance for patients intend to neither hasten death or postpone it. Rather, it makes the life of the patient more comfortable and even bearable during treatment and, in some cases, while waiting for their last moments with their family or loved ones.
They combine the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
People who need health management and care during a terminal illness require certain special strategies to better prepare them for their last moments or while going through some treatments. Palliative and hospice care aim to address not just the physical needs of the patients but to also look into the psychological needs for patients and try to combine these with the spiritual longing of patients. In some cases, they remind patients that death is just a normal part of the process and that there are higher powers and a higher state of consciousness waiting for them.
They help the patient lead a relatively more active lifestyle before their final moments
Patients with a terminal illness or life-limiting sickness tend to suffer from depression, weak resolve, and a resulting inactive lifestyle. Palliative care and hospice care aims to somehow maintain or at the very least promote an active lifestyle in patients with terminal illness. This will ensure that patients get the required physical exercise they require to boost their health and improve their mental condition right before their final moments.
They also help the patient’s family cope with the emotional distress of having a terminally ill loved one
Palliative and hospice care both take into consideration the patient’s family when dealing with the patient and the sensitive issue of their eventual passing. This helps the patient’s support system which is his or her family or loved ones and involves them in making the patient’s days more meaningful, focused, optimistic and manageable.
They help with enhancing the quality of life of patients and may positively influence the course of the illness
Palliative care and hospice care help enhance the quality of life of patients and positively influence the course of the illness through the aforementioned combination of physical, psychological and emotional support. These activities when provided to terminally ill patients and their families and loved ones create a synergistic approach towards better health outcomes for the patient.
Some Considerations for Palliative and Hospice Care
While there are a number of benefits for both Palliative and Hospice care, patients, their loved ones and medical practitioners must consider some possible risks in the implementation of palliative and hospice care. First, patients and their families may have a mistrust of healthcare professionals especially since their terminal illness may have affected their overall morale towards health and wellness. Second, the illness may go through an altogether different trajectory or course as forecasted by the medical practitioner. Lastly, medical practitioners must be careful not to be overly optimistic in treating illnesses and in dealing with terminally ill patients.