Palliative Care vs Hospice Care: Defining Healthcare Approaches

hospice and palliative care

Suppose that a particular health concern places you in a critical situation. In that case, you have two treatment options available. Choosing between palliative care vs hospice care is often the point of confusion by many. Although there is no inherent difference between the two, there can be significant distinctions. So,¬†what’s great about hospice care? What makes palliative care a similar approach? Let’s find out.



One of the most critical aspects of a person’s life is enjoying it in the best ways they can. However, some people may face challenges in achieving it because of their current health concerns. Every patient deserves to be happy regardless of the diagnosis or development of their condition.

In today’s technology, many advanced practices can help cure an individual. Thanks to these innovations, most chronic diseases are a lot more manageable than ever. In any case, doctors do everything they can to support each patient. They help reduce pain and provide psychological support, all of which are essential in enhancing the patient’s overall quality of life.

Numerous studies have shown that effective palliative and hospice care extends patients’ lives and slows the progression of severe diseases. Both of these healthcare approaches strive to make each person’s condition as good as possible. However, what’s the difference between palliative care and hospice?


Hospice Care

palliative care vs hospice definitionHospice is a social and clinical institution that offers palliative care to terminally sick patients. Often, doctors will recommend this practice in the latter stages of an illness. According to experts, hospice care is much more common for cancer patients.

A physician will refer their patients to the hospice if they meet the following criteria:

  • Healthcare providers are looking for the best painkiller regimen for the patient.
  • The patient is unable to cope with unpleasant symptoms at home.
  • No relatives or friends are available to take care of the patient.
  • Their families are in desperate need of a social break.

A patient usually only stays in a hospital’s palliative ward for a few days or weeks before going home or to a hospice. According to statistics, most individuals choose to spend their final days at home in a familiar environment. In that situation, palliative care is provided at home by professionals.


Home Palliative Care

Several illnesses have a challenging course but would not always result in the patient’s death. Symptoms of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other neurodegenerative diseases are examples of such states. In such situations, palliative care is necessary.

Palliative treatment for patients can be offered at their homes. The continuation of hospital therapy, including pain control, emotional counseling, and treatment, should be the foundation of home care.


Palliative Care vs Hospice Care



The essence of palliative and hospice care principles are similar in that both focus on improving the patient’s well-being. They use an interdisciplinary approach to provide specialized treatment and support for those living with severe diseases. The principal objective of both is to enhance patients’ quality of life. This is done by implementing measures that increase comfort and reduce the problems that come with their condition.

Both programs are family-centered, which means the treatment offered is designed to benefit both parties. This includes the patient with the condition and the household that is caring for them.



Hospice care is a form of palliative care. However, the distinction lies in the stage of sickness each is dealing with. For palliative care, it includes active treatment that might last for months or even years. On the other hand, hospice treatment is usually reserved for terminally ill patients. These are individuals who face a serious illness and often with a life expectancy of six months or shorter.

The main distinction between hospice and palliative care is that hospice allows a terminally ill patient to enjoy his last months in comfort without going through pain. During hospice therapy, the patient receives attention, anesthesia, and relief from unpleasant symptoms.


Principles of Palliative and Hospice Care

In this instance, the medical quality of palliative care vs hospice care should be maintained at a high standard. A team of experts should take a multidisciplinary approach and offers the following interdisciplinary solutions:


expectations palliative care

Pain Relief

Symptomatic treatment is utilized to alleviate pain episodes brought on by the condition. The pain usually occurs in the late stages of a serious illness, making the patient’s life more challenging. It is crucial to properly diagnose the nature of pain, develop a medical plan, and offer adequate patient care to achieve successful curative treatment. Palliative medicine professionals should ensure that the patient receives the best possible care and develop a daily regimen.


Psychological Support

Following a diagnosis, it is inevitable for both the patient and his family to endure significant stress. This can range from stages of denial and progress to the onset of deep despair. Serious illness, surgeries, curative treatment, lifestyle changes, potential handicap, and fear of dying can all impact the patient’s mental state.

Because they are equally stressed, relatives are often unable to provide enough assistance to the patient. The contrast between palliative care vs hospice care is that with the palliative approach, the patient and his family receive psychological aid without leaving their house.


Social Support

Difficulties resulting from the price of care and therapy can exacerbate psychological issues. Many patients are struggling financially, and others need to better their living conditions. However, only a tiny percentage are aware of the social advantages accessible to them. As a result, social support for the patient and his family is included in palliative care.


The Challenges of Palliative Care 

For individuals with a severe disease that is still responding to medical therapy, palliative care may be a preferable alternative at first. However, not all healthcare facilities offer palliative services to their patients. Often, patients and their relatives will not choose hospice care if it means abandoning all curative therapies. They will wait until they are told there is nothing else that can be done for their condition. If medical care is not available, the patient won’t receive the necessary attention to improve their well-being.

Additionally, palliative care, unlike hospice, does not have a unified funding system. This may also limit a patient’s capacity to get treatment from the moment of diagnosis.


Reasons for Electing to Hospice Care

While it is a terrifying notion, one of the advantages of hospice is that patients are not alone in their death bed. Hospice patients can get the maximum hours of medical assistance. This may be necessary for a person near their end of life to relieve the family of the burden of care.

Another benefit of choosing hospice care is that patients who have a slim probability of living longer can choose to receive treatment to improve their quality of life. All drugs and medical equipment necessary to optimize and maintain patient comfort are coverable by the hospice benefit. It includes devices such as oxygen, which is only available to patients who fulfill strict oxygenation criteria.


Wrapping It Up

palliative and hospice challengesThe multidisciplinary approach of healthcare allows patients to obtain a complete, high-quality care plan. By understanding the patient’s specific preferences and objectives, specialists can determine which between the two end-of-life care they should employ. The doctor can advocate for the patient if they know what the patient aspires for in their condition.