Palliative And Hospice Care
How Both Can Enhance Life Overall When Dealing With Illness
When facing a serious illness or life-limiting condition, palliative care and hospice care can provide you or a loved one with relief, a sense of more control and enhancement of life in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Both palliative care and hospice care focus on the needs of the whole patient, not the just the illness someone is dealing with. Both have the goal of decreasing symptoms and increasing quality of life. And both work to help patients and their families live as fully as possible and with dignity in spite of their illness.
Palliative care is for patients managing a serious illness. With palliative care, curative treatments continue but with a more holistic approach that takes you and your whole life into account. With palliative care, you get a team of specially trained professionals to help you navigate your life, as well as your illness. A palliative care team typically consists of some combination of healthcare providers – such as a physician, nurse practitioner and nurses – a medical social worker and perhaps a pharmacist, nutritionist, spiritual counselor and volunteers. Working closely with you and your family, the team helps you:
• Have a conversation with your family and document your wishes for future health care.
• Develop treatment goals and a life-management plan that reflect your values, your life goals, your lifestyle and your desires.
• Ensure proper pain management and symptom relief is in place.
• See that financial issues are addressed and help is found if needed.
• Ensure your family receives information, support, respite and other needed resources.
• With palliative care, you – the patient – are always in control. You can ask your doctor to refer you to palliative care at any time during your illness and you can stop palliative care services at any time you wish or when you recover.
Hospice care is for patients with any life-limiting condition and typically a prognosis of six months or less to live. As with palliative care, hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of healthcare and human services professionals. Your hospice team works closely with you and your family to achieve many of the same goals as with palliative care. The difference is that hospice patients are no longer seeking curative treatments; they are seeking comfort and quality of life. Hospice care does nothing to hasten death. In fact, often people receiving hospice care live longer than people who are being actively treated for the same disease.
With hospice care:
• You can receive hospice services at your home, nursing home, at the hospital or at a hospice house. If you are in a hospital or nursing facility, hospice care can often make it possible for you to move home if you wish.
• You can continue to see your regular physician and use prescribed medications.
• You can go out, have visitors in and do whatever you feel up to doing.
• You can stop hospice care and resume curative treatment at any time.
A physician must refer you for palliative or hospice care. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance offer benefits for both types of care and your care team can help you look into the specifics of your policy.