Palliative vs. Hospice…how do I choose?

At Elite, we are often asked about the difference between palliative and hospice. The biggest misconception is that palliative is “hospice light”, and this just isn’t true. Palliative is designed to help you live your best life while you are still pursuing curative treatments. That means, our goal is to help you live the life and participate in the activities by minimizing symptoms and side effects of the medical interventions you need. 

Palliative Care

Definition:
  • Palliative care is a holistic approach aimed at improving the quality of life for patients facing serious illnesses.
  • It is not limited to end-of-life situations and can be provided at any stage of an illness.
Goals of Palliative Care:
  • The primary goal is to manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.
  • A multidisciplinary team collaborates to address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. At Elite, our team is led by a nurse practitioner, a medical assistant, a social worker, a chaplain, and a nurse. We meet together regularly to support your individual situation.
Applicability:
  • Palliative care is suitable for patients at any age and any stage of a serious illness, including those undergoing curative treatment.

Hospice Care

Definition:
  • Hospice care is a specialized form of care focused on providing comfort and support for those nearing the end of life.
  • Hospice care is typically considered when curative treatments are no longer effective or desired.
Goals of Hospice Care:
  • The primary goal of hospice is to enhance the quality of life in the final months, weeks, or days.
  • Hospice professionals are focusing on pain management, emotional support, and facilitating a peaceful and dignified death.
Applicability:
  • Hospice care is generally for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less.
  • While many believe that hospice means giving up on treatment, the goal of the program is actually a shift in focus towards comfort and quality of life.

Key Differences

Timing:
  • Palliative care can be integrated at any stage
  • Hospice care is typically considered towards the end of life.
Goals and Focus:
  • Palliative care is focused on improving overall quality of life
  • Hospice care is focused on end-of-life comfort.
Treatment Intent:
  • Palliative care is designed to be provided alongside curative treatments
  • Hospice care is more about comfort measures and discontinuing aggressive treatments.

Understanding Hospice Part 2

Lots of great information to better understand this unique service line. Hospice is such a great benefit that is so misunderstood. We will finish out the answers to our Hospice quiz from 2 weeks ago. As always, if there are any questions, please email us at info@elitehhh.com

Hospice provides medications, treatments, medical equipment and supplies that are related to the patient’s illness that is causing the need for services.

Hospice reviews each medication and works with the patient and family to support medications that are providing comfort. Medications that are unrelated to the diagnosis causing the need for hospice may be an out-of-pocket cost for families. This should be reviewed and discussed at the evaluation visit.

Hospice ends when the patient dies.

Grief support is provided for the family members after the patient has passed away for 13 months. Social workers and chaplains often support this service.

Hospice care is available to any individual expected to live 6 months or less.

Patients can live beyond 6 months while on hospice. The health status is regularly reviewed to determine continued eligibility. Hospice services may end due to the patient no longer having a 6-month prognosis. Patients may graduate from hospice at this point. If the patient begins to decline, they can be readmitted to the hospice program again.

People who live alone are able to receive hospice.

Most hospices will enroll a patient without a caregiver. Usually, if there is a concern for caregiver needs, this may become a focus of the hospice care plan to assure the patient has proper care and support as their disease progresses and additional help is required.

Hospice is designed to treat the emotional needs of the dying individual and their family.

The hospice team is uniquely trained to provide emotional support. The unique training of social workers and chaplains aids in meeting these needs. The patient and family determine the level of support provided.

Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cannot have hospice.

Around 13% of all hospice patients have a diagnosis of one of the dementias. This is becoming the largest and fastest growing segment of hospice.

While on hospice, individuals can receive treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to cure the illness causing the need for services.

In many cases, these interventions are considered curative. As such, the role of hospice cannot properly be provided, and patients will often choose to discharge from hospice in pursuit of these services.

Individuals on hospice cannot be taken to the hospital.

Hospitalization is usually unnecessary while on hospice. Unrelated conditions may be treated in a hospital setting while on hospice. The important thing is to let the hospice agency know, so they can properly advise if a hospitalization is the best treatment plan based on overall goals. The hospital will also need to be informed to support the patient’s decisions for care.

Hospice care focuses on managing pain and symptoms.

The purpose of hospice is quality pain and symptom management. In fact, this is one of the key metrics that contributes to a hospice’s rating. Most patients expect hospice to address pain relief as a priority in the care plan.

Hospice is for the caregivers, family, and friends, as well as, the patient.

Hospice is a team targeting physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs. Additional members that may be available, depending on the hospice, include massage therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, pharmacists, and volunteers.

Hospice is a minimum of 12 hours of daily bedside care provided by the clinicians.

Hospice is generally provided as visits by different team members each week. The frequency and duration of visits will depend on the patient’s needs. There may be a need to supplement services with hired caregivers to meet all the needs of the patient.

Hospice Quiz

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month!

Let’s test our knowledge and learn together!

True or False:

  1. Hospice is a 24/7 service.
  2. Hospice is only for 6 months even if you continue to live beyond that time frame.
  3. Hospice is only for cancer patients.
  4. Hospice services are paid for by health insurance.
  5. Hospice services include comfort and grief support for families after the patient dies.
  6. Hospice can be provided in nursing homes.
  7. Hospice is only appropriate if the person only has a few days to live.
  8. Patients on hospice cannot receive care from spouses, partners, children or other loved ones.
  9. Hospice helps by speeding up the dying process.
  10. Hospice cannot be provided in the home.
  11. Only persons older than 65 can receive hospice.
  12. Anyone can make a referral to hospice.
  13. Hospice provides medications, treatments, medical equipment and supplies that are related to the patient’s illness that is causing the need for services.
  14. Hospice ends when the patient dies.
  15. Hospice care is available to any individual expected to live 6 months or less.
  16. People who live alone are able to receive hospice.
  17. Hospice is designed to treat the emotional needs of the dying individual and their family.
  18. Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cannot have hospice.
  19. While on hospice, individuals can receive treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to cure the illness causing the need for services.
  20. Individuals on hospice cannot be taken to the hospital.
  21. Hospice care focuses on managing pain and symptoms.
  22. Hospice is for the caregivers, family, and friends, as well as, the patient.
  23. The Hospice team is a physician, nurses, social workers, and chaplains.
  24. Hospice is a minimum of 12 hours of daily bedside care provided by the clinicians.

Here are the answers:

  1. True
  2. False
  3. False
  4. True
  5. True
  6. True
  7. False
  8. False
  9. False
  10. False
  11. False
  12. True
  13. True
  14. False
  15. True
  16. True
  17. True
  18. False
  19. False
  20. False
  21. True
  22. True
  23. True
  24. False

Explanations will be in next week’s blog…stay tuned!