Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care


Palliative care is an extra layer of support that is given throughout the treatment process that includes specialized medical care and emotional support for people with serious or chronic illnesses. Palliative care focuses on relieving symptoms and stress caused by the illness and improving quality of life for the patient and their family. Palliative care can be given in concert with patients that chose to or are receiving curative or life-prolonging care. Palliative care is administered by an interdisciplinary team that works together to give patient centered care. This team may consist of but is not limited to physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains.

Hospice care is a specific type of palliative care that provides medical services, emotional support and spiritual resources for people in the end stages of a serious illness when they have chosen stop or not receive curative care. Hospice care focuses on relieving the symptoms of the condition and making the person as comfortable as possible so they can spend their time doing the things they want to do with the people they love. Hospice care is also administered by an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains. (How Palliative Care Differs, 2014)

Criteria and Timing

Palliative care has no time restrictions. Palliative care can be administered to anyone at any time at any stage of their illness.(How Palliative Care Differ, 2014)

Hospice care is provided to patients with later stage disease who are expected to live 6 months or less. For patients to receive hospice care they must be referred by a physician who certifies that the patient is terminally ill. Once the patient begins hospice care the physician or a clinician will see the patient every 6 months to certify that the patient is still terminally ill. (Hospice Care, 2015)

Location of Treatment

Palliative care is usually administered at the facility that the patient is receiving treatment like the hospital or extended care facility but it can be administered at home.

Hospice care is usually administered at the patient’s home but also at free standing hospice facilities, a nursing home or on occasion at a hospital. (Hospice Vs. Palliative Care, 2015)

Cost of Treatment

Palliative care is usually administered through the individual’s hospital or primary care provider so it is likely that is will be covered by the individual’s medical insurance and is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid (in an approved Medicare/Medicaid facility), Department of Veteran’s Affairs and most private insurance plans. (Hospice Vs. Palliative Care, 2015)

There are differences between palliative care and hospice care but they are similar in regards to giving comprehensive, patient centered care that includes patient’s goals of care and the family’s needs. This is accomplished by interdisciplinary teams that utilize communication and collaboration to ensure that patient and family receive the type of care they need and deserve.

Regarding both palliative and hospice care, this quote by Dame Cicely Saunders rings very true, “You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.” (Hospice Care, 2015)


How Palliative Care Differs from Hospice care. (2014). In ASCOanswers Palliative Care Improving Quality of Life for Patients and Families. Alexandria, Virginia.

Hospice Vs. Palliative Care. (2015). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.caregiverslibrary.org/caregivers-resources/grp-end-of-life-issues/hsgrp-hospice/hospice-vs-palliative-care-article.aspx

Hospice Care. (2015). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/findingandpayingfortreatment/choosingyourtreatmentteam/hospicecare/hospice-care-toc