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Palliative Care is NOT the Same as Hospice Care

Palliative care is a very valuable service and is its specialty. Someone can have that support with or without home health or hospice agency care.

One major difference between hospice and palliative care programs is that one can continue curative treatments with Palliative Care, but not with Hospice Care. There is a progression from PC to HC when the disease process has become terminal, one can get the aggressive meds to treat symptoms, but not the aggressive meds or treatments that are considered curative.

It is not recommended that one choose Palliative because for them facing death is difficult or when the term ‘hospice’ scares them because they think; ‘if I say the word ‘hospice’ out loud my loved one will be closer to dying’. The system is not designed that way, but many still try to use it that way, thinking it’s a ‘stepping stone’. That concept refers to the progression from curative to terminal, not avoidance and & denial to acceptance.

Palliative care programs include visits by an advanced practice registered nurse or medical doctor to help manage symptoms that may or may not be life-threatening. The aggressive symptom management available from a nurse practitioner in a palliative care program is for people in their homes, nursing homes, or hospitals who have complicated and hard-to-manage side effects from a disease process. The patient’s disease may or may not be life-threatening. But if it is life-threatening, hospice care offers many more services and is the preferred program to choose. Many patients do need a nurse practitioner who works with a medical doctor to come and visit and get orders for medications or treatments that other doctors may not have thought about. That’s the proper focus of Palliative Care.

Hospice Care includes a variety of professionals who visit the patient and family 1-3 times per week or 1-2 times per month.  The services include Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistants, Social Workers, Chaplains, and Volunteers with the 24/7 hotline answered by nurses. Palliative Care includes only visits by an Advanced Nurse Practitioner or Medical Doctor.

Check your benefits for the coverage of this CMS- and private insurance–supported program. A hospice website may explain palliative care, making it look like all the services listed are included in both, but in most agencies, they are not. In some places, Australia & UK for instance, and most likely some high donation funded Hospice and Palliative Care agencies in the US, will provide all services to both programs.

To purchase Barbara's book, Demystifying Hospice, you can purchase a signed copy or downloadable PDF at Author Spots or a digital copy on Kindle Ebook

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