Palliative vs Hospice Care

doctorMany believe palliative and hospice care to be the same thing, yet on further inspection it is evident that this assumption could not be more untrue. The most significant difference is that palliative care is not just for those that are within the last 6 months of their life (unlike hospice); you could be at any disease stage, it is a treatment that is applicable to both those with chronic illnesses and those that are curable. Here are the most significant differences between both methods of care:

• Hospice care cannot be given to a patient who is simultaneously undergoing curative treatment such as chemotherapy; it is often given to those patients that are not seeking to be cured. Palliative care can occur alongside treatment to help manage their side-effects.

• Hospice care is often fully covered by the NHS, however palliative care is often considerably more underfunded. To illustrate; if in the fatal stages of suffering from asbestos induced lung cancer you could almost certainly claim entirely free hospice care. However, if you are merely suffering from chest tightness and breathing difficulty as a result of asbestos you may have to find your own means of funding. Of course in the latter case you could make an asbestosis claim and fund symptom relief through those means.

• Hospice care often takes place in an environment of comfort for the patient such as the home, whereas palliative care is hospital orientated in most cases.

Whilst the overarching purpose of both methods is to alleviate pain and symptoms, the kind of patients each program serves is very different. Nonetheless, both methods are experiencing considerable growth in the UK.