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Difference between Hospice & Palliative Care

Hospice

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), hospice care focuses on a patients’ right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that both the patient and the patient’s family will receive the necessary support to allow them to do so.

  • Hospice focuses on caring, not curing, and in most cases; care is provided in the person’s home.
  • Hospice care is most often provided in the home but can be provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, nursing homes and other residential or long-term care facilities.
  • Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness.
  • Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations.

The goal of hospice care is to help a person be comfortable by addressing issues causing physical or emotional pain or suffering, and utilizing a team-approach to addressing these needs.

Palliative Care

In a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August of 2010, Dr’s Amy S. Kelley and Diane E. Meier describe the difference between hospice and palliative care. They said that “nonhospice palliative care is offered simultaneously with life-prolonging and curative therapies for persons living with serious, complex, and life-threatening illness. Hospice palliative care becomes appropriate when curative treatments are no longer beneficial, when the burdens of these treatments exceed their benefits, or when patients are entering the last weeks to months of life”.1

Palliative care focuses on the relief of pain and suffering and on providing the best quality of life possible for patients and their families.2 Similar to hospice, palliative care is typically provided by a team of providers from different disciplines to address the complex needs of seriously ill patients  and can be delivered in a person’s home, or at a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility.

1 National Consensus Project home page (Accessed July 29, 2010)
2 N ENGL J MED 363;8. August 19, 2010