Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health
Departments Health Links Calendar Archived Issues Media Kit Contact Us
  Senior Care Senior Living Camps & Activities for Special Needs Children Ask the Expert  
  Article    
 

Palliative Care and Hospice Care: What’s the Difference?

By Dillon Stein, DO

Palliative care is a growing specialty, and with that growth has come plenty of questions (and sometimes confusion) regarding what it is and who should be asking for it.

Palliative care is a team-based medical specialty focused on caring for patients with serious illness to help them to live life fully. It is often delivered by a team of health care professionals including physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains that have expertise in managing both physical and emotional symptoms of illness. Palliative care can be delivered at any point of a serious illness with the goal to optimize comfort, provide support for patients and their families, and help patients make ongoing decisions about their healthcare. Palliative care is most frequently offered alongside curative and life-prolonging treatments.

Palliative care is often confused with hospice, but it is different. While both palliative care and hospice focus on comfort and support for individuals and families, the primary difference lies in the goals of the treatment plan. Because palliative care can be offered alongside active treatment plans, individuals often continue to receive treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer, cardiac interventions for heart failure, or rehabilitation for strokes. However, there does come a time when individuals prioritize comfort and quality of life above further aggressive means of medical care; and when that occurs often hospice can be the most helpful plan of care. Hospice is a specialized type of care for people whose life expectancy is 6 months or less, and at which point life-prolonging or curative treatments may no longer align with the person’s healthcare goals. Hospice will continue to focus on goals such as comfort, the setting of care, and preparation for the end-of-life.

Palliative care specialists can help patients make decisions that align with their hopes and values by focusing on the individual. Understandably, decisions made today may be different than those decisions made for a person’s future. For this reason, it is important to discuss topics that are often difficult to talk about such as advance directives, and answer questions like “what if my health worsens?” or “what are my hopes for the future?” Palliative care can also assist with these types of important conversations.

When it comes down to an individual’s care, it needs to be personalized. It should focus on not only the medical needs of the person, but also the supports necessary to meet goals and to promote quality of life along a journey with serious illness. While palliative care and hospice may be different, their focus is the same: the individual.

Dr. Dillon Stein is Co-Director, Division of Palliative Care at Butler Health System.



Westmoreland County Special Edition Download a PDF version Advertise Subscribe for FREE
Subscribe to GTGH

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Scott and Christie

CMS Housing – Apartments

Doterra

WR Cameron Wellness Center

Medicare Specialists of Pittsburgh

East End Food Coop

Reserve This Space | Call 412-835-5796 or email goodhealthmag@aol.com


Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health. All rights reserved.


Send email to goodhealthmag@aol.com