"Founded in 1978, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is the oldest and largest nonprofit public benefit organization devoted exclusively to hospice care. NHPCO is dedicated to promoting and maintaining quality care for terminally ill persons and their families, and to making hospice an integral part of the U.S. health care system."
Palliative care is different from Hospice care in the following respects:
- Palliative care is intended for all dying people, not just those with terminal diseases.
- Hospice patients must usually have a terminal disease such as cancer, AIDS or ALS, and two physicians must specify that the patient has approximately six months or less to live.
Additionally, palliative care is applicable for dying people who have an indefinite time to live, i.e., possibly many years, not just six months or less. Like hospice care, palliative care provides dying people with psychosocial and spiritual services, as well as follow-up bereavement for the family after the patient dies. Palliative care, also called comfort care, is primarily directed at providing relief to a terminally-ill person through symptom management and pain management.
The goal is to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains. The focus is not on death, but on compassionate specialized care for the living. Palliative care is well-suited to an interdisciplinary team model that provides support for the whole person and those who are sharing the person's journey in love.
Hospice is not intended for people who are still seeking a cure for their illness, but is completely focused on comfort and relief of symptoms.
Hospice focuses on medical, psychosocial, spiritual and practical needs throughout the periods of illness and bereavement. Hospice provides comfort or palliative care, a good choice when curative or other aggressive treatment is no longer effective or wanted, and when life expectancy is limited. The earlier hospice is involved, the more it can help make the final days, weeks, and months as comfortable and satisfying as possible. With early involvement hospice can support the family in caring for you and each other. A physician normally makes a referral to hospice.
Hospice is provided in the home or in another homelike setting, such as a relative's home, a nursing or foster home, a residential care or assisted living facility, or a residential hospice. More than 99 percent of Americans have access to hospice in their communities and The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization can help locate the one closest to you.
Nearly all health plans have hospice benefits and hospice will not turn you or your family away because you cannot pay for services. If you are eligible for Medicare, then you are entitled to hospice and comfort care by law.