Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care

Main Difference – Hospice vs Palliative Care

Hospice care and palliative care are two phrases which are vastly used in the modern society in relation to care for dying people. Both types of care focus on supporting an ill patient; they help a patient to be comfortable by overcoming physical and emotional pain which is caused by chronic suffering. However, these terms are often used interchangeably since they share many similar features. The main difference between hospice and palliative care is based on the fact that hospice care does not provide curative treatment whereas palliative care may or may not involve curative intervention.

This article looks at,

1. What is Hospice? – Concept, Care Given, Eligibility and Enrollment

2. What is Palliative Care? – Concept, Care Given, Eligibility and Enrollment 

3. What is the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?


Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care - Hospice vs Palliative Care Comparison Summary

What is Hospice Care

Hospice program is a newly introduced concept of taking care of dying people; this program has outnumbered the major programs of palliative care, especially in the developed countries. However, a person should be terminally ill or declared as dying within six months to be eligible for most hospice programs in the world

As far as the procedure of getting eligible for hospice care is concerned, a sick person is enrolled and directed through a referral from a primary care physician where he will later be seen and followed up by a team comprised of trained hospice professionals at his own home. Hospice usually consists of a family caregiver and a visiting nurse who will provide continuous 24-hour care either at home or in a nursing home.

Most hospice programs pay attention to improving the individual’s comfort rather than concentrating on the treatment or aggressive disease abatement. In fact, patients who get the hospice care are able to benefit the most out of the time they are left with, without experiencing possible negative side-effects of the disease itself or lifelong medication. It is a well-known fact that most of these patients tend to achieve a high level of comfort by reaching immense emotional and spiritual targets in life.

The ultimate goal of hospice care includes the improvement of symptoms, pain relief and taking care of patients with a life expectancy of months.

Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care

What is Palliative Care

Also known as ‘comfort care,’ palliative care usually comprises of a team consisting of doctors, nurses, and other trained health caregivers, often in an institution like facilitated hospital, nursing home or extended care where a patient will receive his first therapeutic interventions for a certain illness. He will be taken care of and provided with suitable relieving medications and followed up accordingly. More importantly, the subject of palliative care is usually related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders, chronic kidney disease, chronic heart failure, HIV/AIDS, malignancies, progressive neurological conditions, etc.

For example, when a patient is diagnosed with cancer and goes through multiple cycles of chemotherapy and gets consequent side effects like nausea, vomiting, depression and anxiety, the trained palliative care team will provide necessary medication which will relieve symptoms, support with talk therapy, meditation, religious activities, stress relief yoga techniques etc. In fact, several coping mechanisms will be suggested and practiced according to individual needs which will ultimately improve the quality of the remaining life of both the ill person and his family, before and after medical interventions.

Main Difference - Hospice vs Palliative Care

Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care


Hospice Care: Hospice is mainly based on comfortable care without any intention of curing a patient.

Palliative Care: Palliative care targets on patient’s comfort and care with or without the presence of curative intervention.


Hospice Care: A patient requires a certification from two physicians recommending the presence of a life expectancy less than 6 months (if the disease follows its natural progress) to be eligible for hospice care.

Palliative Care: Patients with limited ability to take care of themselves,  patients who no longer receive curative treatment or required benefits from it or patients who are not eligible for a clinical trial can receive palliative care.


Hospice Care: Hospice care is usually provided at person’s own home or a nursing home with a caretaker and a visiting hospice nurse.                                          

Palliative Care: Palliative care will be carried out in an institution like a hospital with various advanced facilities.

Image Courtesy:

“Oncology doctor consults with patient” By Bill Branson (Photographer) – This image was released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, with the ID 2189 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

“Mother and son holding hands” By Mercurywoodrose – Own work, (CC-BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music