We understand that talking about the end-of-life care of a family member is likely to be a distressing subject. However, having these conversations sooner, rather than later, will help everyone to feel more prepared for what lies ahead.
If you’re looking into care options for an elderly loved one, then you may have wondered whether there is a difference between hospice and palliative care.
In this article, we’ll set out to answer the question: what is the difference between palliative care and hospice care to provide clarity on this complex issue.
The World Health Organization defines palliative care as:
‘an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening illness. It prevents and relieves suffering through the early identification, correct assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, whether physical, psychosocial or spiritual’.
Palliative care aims to provide comfort by addressing pain and other symptoms for people who have a chronic and life-threatening illness. The broad aim of palliative care is to help people to live as fully as possible – it may or may not be delivered alongside a potentially curative treatment.
While palliative care is provided to someone during the latter stages of their life, it can span years – not just the last few weeks or months.
Here at Athena, we pride ourselves on offering a range of care services, from residential and respite to specialist palliative care. Just knowing that we have a team of experienced palliative care nurses on hand, gives peace of mind and enables families to make the most of their time together.
Hospice care is a form of palliative care – it provides medical relief from pain and general support, until the end of life. Similarly to palliative care in a nursing home, hospice care is required when a disease – such as cancer or heart failure – becomes advanced.
Hospice care may take place at home or in a dedicated residential hospice setting. It is given when a diagnosis is terminal and all curative treatment has ceased. Hospice care is usually offered when a person is expected to live for about 6 months or less, although it isn’t always possible to predict this.
We relate both palliative care and hospice care to providing comfort and pain management, while also viewing the patient as a whole – not defined by their illness. Both care types address psychological, emotional, practical, social and spiritual wellbeing – they go beyond medical treatment and physical care.
In addition, both palliative and hospice care involve a team of professionals, from doctors and nurses, to chaplains and social workers.
The main difference is that palliative care tends to be broader in scope and timescale; hospice care is only offered to someone with a terminal diagnosis, whereas palliative care can be administered alongside curative treatments.
When a loved one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, we understand it is a sad and distressing time for all involved. We believe it is crucial that palliative care in nursing homes is given with kindness and compassion as well as medical expertise.
If or when the time comes, we offer exceptional specialist palliative care. We recognise that, as the end-of-life approaches, the care needs of a loved one may change. We take a person-centred approach to all care, including palliative services, and we make it our aim to honour the wishes of the individual and their family.
We strive to ensure that this time is pain-free, peaceful and dignified. Our support to the family continues throughout, as we understand the complexity of emotions that are experienced during this challenging time.
Identifying and communicating a detailed care plan helps to take some of the pressure away from the family and gives some comfort to the family.
Our knowledgeable palliative care team brings much-needed consistency and reassurance at a difficult time. Alongside the administration of pain relief and other medication, care is given with compassion and dignity. We also prepare nutritious meals and offer comfort and companionship.
Our team is also on hand to provide emotional support and comfort to the families and loved ones of our residents.
Hopefully explaining the difference between hospice and palliative care has provided some clarity on what would be the right solution for you and your loved one. If you require any further information, please click to find out more about our specialist palliative care or call us if you have any queries.
Here at Athena, we are proud to be an award-winning care home with locations across East Anglia in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, and Suffolk. As well as specialist palliative care, we also offer:
To find out more about us, or to make an appointment to visit one of our care homes, please get in touch today on 0208 536 6690. We look forward to hearing from you.