About Hospice & Palliative Care

Understanding Hospice Care

Hospice focuses on providing comfort, relieving pain, and offering support for persons with life-limiting health conditions and their families. Hospice provides pain and symptom relief, as well as emotional and spiritual support, typically in the last six months of life.

Hospice care occurs wherever a person calls home. Hospice is not a “place”; patients receive hospice care at home, which may be a person’s residence, a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or a residential hospice.

Hospice is open to people of all ages, including children. While approximately two out of three hospice patients are over the age of 65, hospice care is available at any time of life.

Hospice services are available on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to regular visits from the hospice team, families can reach hospice professionals at any time to ask questions or to deal with medical and other crises.

Hospice professionals are committed to bringing pain under control as quickly as possible. Excellent pain management helps both the patients and the caregivers. It's a cornerstone of hospice care.

Hospice staff are often present at a patient’s death and usually are closely involved as death approaches. This is one of hospice’s greatest gifts -- helping the patient and his or her loved ones cope with and understand what's happening.

The costs of hospice care are generally covered under Medicare. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers a range of medical and supportive services that are deemed “reasonable and necessary.” Most state Medicaid programs offer hospice coverage, as do most private health insurance plans.

Understanding Palliative Care

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is a team approach to care provided by specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors. It's appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. While the core team includes doctor, nurse, and social work palliative care specialists, massage therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, chaplains and others may also be involved.

They support the patient and family not only by controlling the patient’s symptoms, but also by helping with understanding of treatment options and goals.

A patient may receive life-prolonging therapy while receiving palliative care. By contrast, hospice care is specifically focused upon caring for the patient at the end of life.

The cost of palliative care varies based on the patient’s medical coverage. As most palliative care occurs in a professional facility, most is covered by regular medical insurance. However, as with other services, each item for palliative care will be billed separately.

To learn more about Palliative Care, visit GetPalliativeCare.org.


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