Key Facts on How to Make the Right Choice for End-of-Life Care

The Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care

Palliative and hospice care have the objective of focusing on the needs of the patients and their quality of life as well as providing pain and symptom relief, but these are not all they have in common. Here are a few similarities with both types of care.

  • Reduces discomfort and pain. Any serious illness may present pain and discomfort for the patient. Not only can this be hard on them, but it can also be hard on the family. Palliative and hospice care offer medications and treatments to ease these symptoms.
  • Offers more than medical care. Aside from medical care, palliative and hospice treatment services provide access to chaplains, social workers, and other interdisciplinary care teams.
  • Includes the family. Palliative and hospice care services both include the family. They provide support services, such as grief counseling, spiritual care to strengthen the family unit and prepare them for the final stages of life.

Knowing the two different types of care can help someone choose the best level of care between them.

  • Palliative care focuses on easing pain and discomfort, reducing stress, and helping people have the highest quality of life possible.
  • Hospice care focuses on quality of life when a cure is no longer possible, or the burdens of treatment outweigh the benefits.
  • Palliative care is a resource for anyone living with a serious illness.
  • People can be enrolled in the hospice Medicare benefit if their doctor thinks they have fewer than six months to live. The benefit may be extended multiple times if a physician certifies. Hospice services are also offered to persons with Medicaid or private insurance. Talk to your doctor if you think a hospice program might be helpful.
  • You can receive palliative care while also receiving curative and therapeutic care for an illness, such as chemotherapy, dialysis, or surgery.
  • You will not receive curative treatment under hospice care for your specific illness, but you will receive medicine that enhances quality of life, such as treatment for high blood pressure or anxiety.
Type of Care
  • Palliative care services may include pain and symptom management, care coordination with your healthcare team, assistance with developing your plan of care, help with insurance forms and options for care and housing, help with advance directives, and spiritual care.
  • Hospice care includes pain and symptom management, emotional support, medications and medical supplies, coaching for caregivers, grief support, and may include special services like speech and physical therapy when needed. Medicare qualified hospices must provide a 24/7 call service. Hospice care will also make short term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home or when caregivers need respite time.
Location of Care
  • Palliative care may be provided in any care setting, such as the home, a hospital, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics.
  • Hospice care can be provided wherever the patient lives, including nursing facilities and long-term care facilities
Care Providers
  • Most palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists. They will work with your primary care doctor and specialists.
  • Hospice care is provided by a team that focuses on the patient’s needs. The team usually includes clergy, home health aides, hospice physicians, nurses, social workers, trained volunteers, and other specialized therapists if needed. A patient’s personal physician may also be included. Although hospice provides a lot of support, if the patient lives at home, the day-to-day care is provided by the inner circle or paid home health aides.
  • Medicare, Medicaid, and many insurance plans will cover the medical portions of palliative care. Veterans may be eligible for palliative care through the VA. Check with your doctor and insurance to see what will be covered in your situation.
  • Hospice care is most often paid for as a benefit of Medicare. Hospice may also be paid for as part of a Medicare Advantage plan, by state Medicaid plans, or by private insurance. Discuss the source of payment and services covered with your hospice team.
  • Palliative care can be provided as long as it is needed. Talk to your doctor about what level of care might be best for you as your health changes.
  • Hospice care can be initiated and continued so long as your doctor believes you likely have fewer than six months to live. Sometimes, people receiving hospice care live longer than six months and the care can be extended. You can get hospice care for two 90-day benefit periods, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day benefit periods. It is also possible to leave hospice care if a patient’s condition improves or they decide they wish to resume curative care and return to hospice care later.

Excerpt from “What is the Difference between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?” Published 2022 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.



Solari is an author and a content writer for ifocurs, the most-advanced digital media platform for the most diverse, most online, and most socially engaged audience in modern times. When she is not working, she enjoys travel adventures, photography, and reading literary masterpieces. She is an influencer marketing consultant; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.

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