What is Hospice Care?


iStock-547513026Depending on the stage and type of cancer, sometimes, the goal of a patient’s care is to focus on comfort. Two types of outpatient care that are commonly used are hospice care and palliative care.

Commonly mistaken for hospice care, palliative care is any type of outpatient care that is available to improve quality of life for patients who currently have or have had a potentially life-threatening disease, such as cancer, but may not be in a life-threatening position with their disease.

While palliative care is focused on relieving negative symptoms of a disease and helping improve the patient’s quality of life, hospice care is a type of advanced palliative care and is usually offered to patients who are nearing the end of their lives.

Hospice care is designed for people with advanced, incurable diseases – like some forms of cancer, and it focuses on pain relief and comfort, as well as emotional support and grief therapy for loved ones. As a patient approaches the final stage of his/her life, hospice care focuses on providing humane and compassionate care so that the person may live as fully and comfortably as possible in his or her final days, weeks or months.

A patient is usually referred to hospice care when he or she can no longer be treated medically and is expected to have six months or less to live. The patient, family and doctor will discuss best care plan together should hospice care be an option.

Hospice care can be administered at the patient’s home, at a hospice facility, in a hospital or in a skilled nursing home facility. A standard hospice care team includes the patient’s oncologist, a hospice doctor, nurses, home health aides, social workers, clergy or other counselors, speech, physical and occupational therapists and volunteers, all working together to make the patient’s life more comfortable.

Hospice workers also help loved ones cope both during and after the patient’s final days.

If you have questions about hospice or palliative care and services close to home, call our 24/7 askSARAH helpline to speak with a registered nurse.

2 Responses to “What is Hospice Care?”

  1. Braden Bills

    My mother has cancer, and I want to make sure that she lives the rest of her life in comfort. It seems like hospice care is the right choice! I like that they can not only work to relieve pain, but also provide emotional support.

  2. Tyler Meredith

    I like that you talk about some of the differences between palliative and hospice care. I often get confused when talking about these things with my brothers and sisters when discussing what might be best for my mom. This information could be very helpful to remember because bringing it up with my mom could help make sure we all choose what’s best and that she’s happy.


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