The Difference Between Hospice & Palliative Care

Palliative care is a specialized medical care for people with serious illness and focuses on providing relief from serious illness by relieving symptoms, pain and stress. Palliative care is appropriate in any chronic or severe illness, regardless of what other therapy is being received, including curative treatments.

Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for people who likely have six months or less to live. Hospice focuses on caring, not curing.

It is mostly provided in the home, but can be provided in hospice centers, such as the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home.

Benefits of Hospice & Palliative Care

Both palliative care and hospice care provide:

  • the goal of improved quality of life for the patient and the family.
  • a team-approach of care to address the patient and family’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • care available to patients of any age, religion, race or illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I receive palliative or hospice care will I still be able to see my personal doctor?Absolutely. Your palliative doctor coordinates care with your other doctors and helps you navigate the often-complex health care system.

Is it true that once you enter a hospice program, you must stay in hospice care until you die?
No. Medicare, Medicaid and most private Insurers will provide coverage for hospice care if your doctors determine you likely have six months or less to live if your illness follows its normal course. However, it is your own choice to enter hospice care, as well as leave it. If your illness improves, or you wish to seek curative treatment, you may leave hospice care, returning if and when you choose.

Not Always What It Seems

Seeking hospice and palliative care isn’t about giving up hope or hastening death, but rather a way to get the most appropriate care in a particular phase of life.

In fact, most studies show that palliative care and even the part of palliative care that is hospice care, actually extends life.