When you hear the term “palliative care,” you might first think of “hospice” or end-of-life care. However, there is a difference between the services that each provide.

Palliative Care

While palliative care may be provided to some at the end of their lives, it is not limited to the terminally ill. Palliative care primarily serves those who are seriously ill and their families, with the goal of improving quality of life. Palliative care focuses on:

  • Providing relief from symptoms, pain and stress — whatever the diagnosis.
  • Cared for by an interdisciplinary team that includes a physician, nurse practitioner, social worker and chaplain.
  • Works with a patient’s other healthcare providers to offer an extra layer of support.
  • Appropriate at any age and any stage of a serious illness.
  • Can be provided together with curative treatment.

Hospice Care

Hospice is a provides nurturing care for those who are terminally ill and treats the whole person — not only the condition — including pain management and emotional and spiritual support. Hospice care focuses on:

  • Providing care for who are terminally ill, with a typical life expectancy of 6 months or less.
  • Overall comfort and quality of life rather than its length.
  • Provides treatment for pain and symptoms rather than working to cure the disease.
  • Services and support for family members, offering counseling and practical help (cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.).
  • Some locations provide respite care (allows caregivers time away) and bereavement care while mourning a loss.