The Roles of Palliative and Hospice Care in Healthcare

When we hear palliative care and hospice care, most of us think they mean the same thing. Palliative and hospice care may seem like two peas in a pod, but they have their own differences.

Patients often panic when doctors suggest they get palliative care—they think this means that they are dying. But palliative care is not the same as hospice care.

Read on to know how they differ once and for all.

Palliative versus Hospice Care: Essential Aspects of Health Care

What Is Palliative Care?

Doctors usually suggest palliative and hospice care to people who suffer from a terminal illness. But unlike hospice care, palliative care is not just for the terminally ill.

Palliative care is a must when creating a treatment plan for a patient from the time he or she is diagnosed with an illness. People with chronic conditions, such as COPD, Parkinson’s, or cancer, may receive palliative care in conjunction with their treatment.

A chronic illness usually brings symptoms and distress to the patient, affecting his or her daily living. Ultimately, it decreases one’s quality of life.

By delivering palliative care, chronically ill patients receive medications that relieve their symptoms while they are continuously monitored and treated. For example, a doctor performs chemotherapy and monitors oxygen saturation for a patient with lung cancer. Meanwhile, a nurse administers pain meds to the same patient to relieve any pain and discomfort.

What Is Hospice Care?

While palliative care is different from hospice care, hospice care is actually a form of palliative care.

Like palliative care, hospice care also aims to provide comfort and quality of life throughout a patient’s dying days. Doctors will usually suggest hospice care if the patient only has six months to live or less, if the illness was to follow its usual course.

Another thing to note is that during hospice care, patients stop receiving treatment for their disease. Instead, they receive treatment that can help relieve any pain and discomfort that come with it. As an example, a bone cancer patient will no longer anymore receive chemotherapy but will be treated for the pain.

The final days can instill fear and grief to a person. During such time, the hospice care team will also provide unwavering emotional and spiritual support through coaching and counseling. In fact, even simply listening to the patient’s thoughts and feelings may help them feel better.

The good thing about palliative and hospice care is that both also extend support to the patient’s family. Having a sick member can take its toll on the entire family. When the morale of caregivers are deeply affected, this negative emotion can pass on to the patient himself and affect their quality of care.

How Palliative and Hospice Care Enhance Healthcare

In order to achieve overall health, healthcare providers need to extend their care beyond the physical aspect. This means tapping into the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects as well. By providing comfort and support through palliative and hospice care, the healthcare team is able to boost a patient’s morale, keep his dignity, and enhance his quality of life.

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