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Getting Extra Levels of Care: Palliative vs. Hospice

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

In the last years of her life, my grandmother experienced a decline in her health. She was at the end of congestive heart failure and was admitted to the hospital multiple times, and upon each discharge, her care needs increased. That’s when hospice care entered our lives. The support we received from the hospice team alleviated the stress of caregiving. My mom, the primary caregiver, was given medication management guidance and could obtain a hospital bed. When my grandmother had acute symptoms, the hospice team provided 24-hour care as needed rather than going to the hospital.

Hospice is a type of care provided to patients nearing the end of their life, typically when they have a life expectancy of six months or less. The goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and support to the patient and their family during this difficult time. Hospice care focuses on managing the patient's symptoms, providing emotional and spiritual support, and ensuring that the patient's wishes are respected. Providers can provide hospice care in various settings, including the patient's home, a hospice facility, or a hospital. Hospice services are comparable to palliative services like pain management and include bereavement support.

Hospice is the more well-known type of care for people facing serious illnesses or end-of-life situations, but there is another similar type of care called palliative. Palliative care, like hospice, aims to manage the patient's symptoms and improve their quality of life: however, there are some essential differences to understand.

The critical difference between hospice and palliative care is that palliative care can be provided regardless of whether the patient's condition is curable. Typical diagnoses that receive palliative care are cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease. Providers can provide palliative care to patients at any stage of their illness, and palliative care can work alongside curative treatments. Services typically offered by palliative care are pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, advanced care planning, assistance with daily living, and respite care.

It is vital to understand these two types of care and how to work with the patient's healthcare team to determine the most appropriate care plan. If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with a severe illness and you are looking for support, reach out to Mellie by email at, by phone at 415-839-9139, or visit our website at


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