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A black hospice patient and a black nurse hold hands in Torrance, CA.


Many people are confused about the difference between palliative care vs. hospice. While both types of care are aimed at providing pain and symptom relief, the two types of care differ in prognosis and goals. Hospice provides comfort when the patient no longer has curative options. Palliative care provides similar services as hospice care, with or without curative intent. So what are some other differences and commonalities?

  • The standards are different for hospice care and palliative care. More than 90 percent of hospice care is paid for by Medicare, so hospice patients are held to the standard of Medicare eligibility requirements. Palliative care patients do not need to meet these requirements because this type of care is generally covered by insurance or paid for out of pocket by the patient.
  • Location is another difference between hospice care and palliative care. Hospice care can be provided in a hospital, but it can also be provided wherever a patient lives, whether that’s a private home, an assisted living facility, a home-like hospice facility, a veteran’s home, or some other setting. Palliative care is typically provided in a hospital, not at a patient’s home.
  • While patients receiving curative care can receive palliative care, both types of care can be provided to a patient without curative care. Patients cease to receive curative treatment when they have limited ability to care for themselves, have received curative treatment but it is no longer beneficial, do not qualify for a clinical trial, and there is no evidence that further curative treatment would be effective.
  • Patients often choose palliative care to treat side effects of medical treatment. Symptoms like pain, fatigue, and nausea can be alleviated with palliative care. This is not true of hospice care, simply because hospice care is not provided to patients who are still receiving treatment for their illnesses.
  • Both types of care involve the entire family, not just the patient. Family members are included in patient care to the extent that the patient wishes. Additionally, both hospice care and palliative care teams provide support to family members, offering services like grief counseling and illness support groups.

Eventually, a person receiving palliative care may need to transition into hospice care. For instance, a person receiving treatment for cancer may receive palliative care for symptom management. If the cancer does not respond to treatment or progresses, or the health of the person declines, the patient may become eligible for hospice care. However, many patients who choose palliative care are not near the end of life, and may be able to suspend care when their symptoms subside. Patients can also choose to use palliative care intermittently, as their symptoms increase and decrease in severity. Typically, patients are eligible for palliative care for as long as they are struggling with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness. With hospice care, on the other hand, the care is ongoing until the death of the patient, as long as a medical director can confirm that the expected course of the disease will limit the person’s life expectancy to six months or fewer.

For thoughtful, compassionate end-of-life care, contact Agape Hospice & Palliative Care. At Agape, our name reflects our philosophy. Agape is a Greek word meaning love, and this is what we offer to our patients and families, improving their quality of life so that patients can live the remainder of their lives to the fullest. We see our patients as a gift, and we are grateful for all they have achieved throughout their lives. That’s why we show that gratitude through compassionate skilled medical care, addressing not just the physical needs of our patients, but also their psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs as well. We are accredited by The Joint Commission, nationally recognized as the gold standard in health care, and we have met the organization’s enhanced requirements for patient safety and quality of care. Agape’s interdisciplinary team is made up of a number of accredited medical professionals, all working together to care for our patients and their families. We offer free nursing services, therapy pet visits, home health aides, pain control, physical therapy, speech therapy, social services, respite care for caregivers, bereavement support, and volunteer assistance. We want our patients and their families to know that they are not alone in this transition. If you would like more information about our services, call us at 213-784-2733 or contact us through our website.

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