Hospice and palliative care differ primarily in setting, time of initiation, payment and eligibility requirements; hospice care typically takes place in home settings, while palliative care offers patient care in traditional clinical settings, such as hospitals and outpatient facilities, as stated by the National Caregivers Library. Hospice care includes treatment from medical professionals, such as a treating physician and hospice nurse, along with at least one family member, while palliative care supports patients exclusively through professional treatment. Hospice programs exceed the number of palliative care programs in the United States, and may include palliative care as part of their services.
Hospice and palliative care programs offer medical support and comfort for people nearing the end of life. Hospice services may include palliative care, which focuses on making patients comfortable, and they generally offer care to patients with projected lifespans of 6 months or less. Palliative care, in contrast, offers services for patients regardless of whether or not they have a terminal illness and projected shortened lifespan.
Although catering to terminally ill patients, hospice care generally avoids using aggressive medicines for treatment, focusing instead on comfort and pain relief. While hospice care focuses on making end of life less stressful and foregoes traditional medical treatment, palliative care may include use of medications to prolong life. Lastly, payment differs between the two services; hospice care may or may not be covered under private insurance, while palliative care is typically covered.