The purpose of this resource is to provide information and tools for those interested in increasing their understanding of palliative care and how it is used in both hospice settings and in palliative care settings. It is also helpful for those interested in working in this type of setting.
The Relationship of Hospice and Palliative Care
Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness and provides additional support to the patient and family. In the early stages of a serious disease, a person may work with a palliative care team to promote access to disease-related specialists, develop a life care plan, and receive emotional and psychological support. A patient can obtain palliative care at any age and at any stage of a serious illness. Palliative care is not dependent on prognosis and can be provided along with curative treatment. Such patients would not qualify for hospice services.
In the later stages of disease, when death is likely within 6 months and the patient is no longer seeking curative measures, the palliative care team can facilitate a smooth transition to a hospice program.
The Hospice Team
Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team (IDT).1 The core team, as defined by the Medicare Hospice Benefit (MHB),1 includes physicians, nurses, social workers, and bereavement counselors. These team members are required to provide care for every patient. The broader team includes providers of therapy services (eg, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy), home health aides, chaplains, volunteers, dieticians, and pharmacists, as well as others involved in customizing appropriate care for each individual. Each hospice agency has its own approach, providing unique blends of care.
The Palliative Care Team
The members of a Palliative Care Team may be similar to the Hospice team but the focus is not necessarily on the process of dying. Physicians, nurses, social workers, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, home health aides, dieticians, and pharmacists are likely to again be part of the team in addition to chaplains and volunteers but their role may not be utilized or as active all depending on individual need.