2.5.2 Palliative vs. Hospice Care

Palliative care is a type of care that is offered to patients who are undergoing a serious medical condition or illness. A life-threatening illness can cause major upheaval and distress in people’s lives, including debilitating physical symptoms, poor mental health, financial stress, anxiety, and much more. Aiming to improve quality of life, palliative care takes a holistic approach, which means that it looks at a client as a multifaceted individual with many different kinds of needs—ranging from psychological to social, and beyond. Patients may receive palliative care in a hospital, an outpatient clinic, a long-term care centre, or at home under the direction of a qualified medical professional (National Cancer Institute, 2017).

Palliative care is often confused with hospice care. Hospice care refers to end-of-life holistic care, which is offered when a patient has a terminal condition, such as cancer, or is declining rapidly due to old age. Like palliative care, this care is not curative, but is aimed at maintaining the highest possible quality of life for as long as possible. However, unlike palliative care, which can be implemented for people who will ultimately recover, hospice care is specific to the end-of-life stage. Due to this fact, hospice care is likely to include support for family members who are dealing with feelings of grief and loss.

Did You Know?

Quality hospice and palliative care neither hastens death nor prolongs life. Learn more about hospice and palliative care in Ontario, and locate many helpful resources by visiting the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) website.

Watch “Palliative Care vs. Hospice: How Are They Different? – Dr. Amy Newton” to learn more about this unique type of care. Then, check your knowledge by taking the short quiz below.

Click here for video transcript: Video Transcript

Practice Makes Perfect

Check your understanding of palliative and hospice care by answering the following true/false questions. Be sure to check your answers at the end!



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