What is Hospice and Palliative Care?

What is Hospice and Palliative Care?

While hospice and palliative care have many similarities, there are some distinct differences between the two types of care. In terms of similarities, both are ultimately designed to enhance a patient’s quality of life as they deal with a serious medical illness.

What is Hospice?

Unlike palliative care, which can begin upon a doctor’s recommendation at any time during treatment of an illness, hospice care is only available to those who receive a medical prognosis of six or fewer months to live if their illness were to run its normal course. In addition, eligibility for hospice care varies from state to state. For example, in New York, one must receive a terminal diagnosis of six or less months to live and the care is available through Medicaid, Medicare, private payment and select health insurers.

Hospice care is designed for individuals who can no longer seek a cure for their illness, but seek to reduce the physical and psychological pain brought on by their illness.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is also a type of medical care that is focused on improving the quality of life of an individual living with a serious illness. As referenced above, unlike hospice care, which requires that the individual has been given six months or less to live should their illness run its expected course, palliative care can begin at any time during the illness, as long as a doctor recommends the option.

Palliative care is not only meant for those nearing the end of life – in fact, people of all ages suffering from life threatening illnesses can receive palliative care.

Palliative care patients, unlike hospice care patients, may work with their team in pursuit of a cure for their illness, if a cure is available.

Where Can You Receive Hospice Treatment?

Hospice care can take place in a number of different settings. This will ultimately depend on the patient’s desires and/or needs. A patient can receive hospice care at their home, in a hospital, in a nursing home or in a separate facility.

Where Can You Receive Palliative Care Treatment?

Much like hospice, there are numerous options for where palliative care can take place. These options include: at home, in a hospital, in a nursing home or in an outpatient clinic.

Who Makes Up a Hospice Care Team?

Hospice care teams consist of doctors and nurses, but can also include other medical professionals such as social workers. Spiritual advisors are often available to hospice patients as well.

Who Makes Up a Palliative Care Team?

A palliative care team is often made up of the same medical professionals that comprise a hospice team. However, since palliative care can include the pursuit of a cure (depending on the illness), other medical professionals may be included, such as a nutritionist.

Hospice and Palliative Care: Understanding the Options

The chart below highlights the similarities and differences between hospice and palliative care:

Focused on increasing quality of life for patients with serious illnessesHospice is only for those who have received a diagnosis of six or less months to live
Patient works with doctors, nurses, social workers and spiritual advisorsPalliative care can include the pursuit of a cure for the illness
Treatment can be received at home, in a hospital, in a nursing home or separate facilityPalliative care can begin at any time during the illness
Palliative care teams can include additional specialists
Hospice and Palliative Care: How You Can Plan Ahead

While this may be a difficult subject to think about, planning ahead can help you receive the type of care you wish should you find yourself suffering from a serious illness in the future. By creating a living will or a power of attorney directive, you can choose who you want to make your medical decisions for you, should you become unable to do so for yourself. These documents will explain how you desire to be cared for if this situation arises. For assistance with creating or revising directives such as these, contact us today.

About the Author

Alyssa Marie Monteleon, Esq.

Alyssa Marie Monteleon is an elder law and estate planning attorney at the Monteleon Law Group, PLLC with offices in New York and Virginia. For more information, please visit www.monteleonlaw.com or call (914) 840-2529.

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