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What's the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

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What's the difference between palliative care and hospice care?
eledrly woman being comforted
Palliative Care
February 10, 2020
minute read

Palliative care and hospice care: what they are, and when you'd need them

It is difficult to watch as somebody you love goes through the final stages of life. Every day brings hard conversations and decisions. One thing is for certain; you want your loved one to get the best possible care. But what is the best way to do that?

Palliative care and hospice care are similar approaches to end-of-life care. However, there are important differences. To help you understand which service will be best for you or your loved one — palliative care or hospice care we've answered some of the most frequently asked questions around the subject.

At Medical & Aged Care Group, we can provide comprehensive and personalised palliative care for your loved one. You can find out more about our services online, and contact us if you have any questions.

Who is hospice care for?

Hospice care is for people with a life expectancy of less than six months. After a diagnosis from a physician, the patient can be referred into a hospice program.

There are many different types of hospice care but, usually, it involves a hospice nurse visiting their patient on a regular basis. Day-to-day care is usually left to family and friends.

In hospice care, treatments to cure any illnesses are usually stopped. This is especially the case if treatments have been causing any negative side effects. The fundamental aim of hospice care is the alleviation of suffering. Any therapy or services delivered by the provider are focused on maximising comfort in the final days of life.

Who is palliative care for?

elderly asian woman in palliative care

Palliative care isn't just medical. It also involves spiritual and pastoral support, and help with daily living. Unlike hospice care, palliative care for the elderly is often carried out in an aged care home. Residents outline their end of life wishes on admission to the aged care home, and the dedicated staff focus on delivering these wishes.

That shared-living environment helps to foster a sense of community, and can prevent feelings of isolation. Additionally, care supplied by professional aged care workers can make life much easier for the family.

What are the differences between palliative care and hospice care?

Like hospice care, palliative care is support for people with terminal illnesses. Doctors and nurses are still involved, and ongoing priority is pain relief and quality of life. However, there are some key differences:

  • Hospice care is exclusively for people with a life expectancy of less than six months. If  the diagnosis changes, and life expectancy extends beyond that, hospice care is usually stopped. However, a longer life expectancy does not disqualify somebody from receiving palliative care.
  • Hospice care is often administered in a person's home. Palliative care, on the other hand, can be provided in an aged care home.
  • There are no more treatments to cure the underlying illness in hospice care. With palliative care, people are not prevented from pursuing therapies which might prolong their life.
  • In palliative care, doctors and nurses are available 24 hours a day to provide support. In hospice care, day-to-day care is usually undertaken by the family.

Does the Medical & Aged Care Group provide palliative care?

Yes. At MACG, our team provide residential aged care, respite care, and — for those living with terminal or chronic illnesses — palliative care. We also provide support for families.

What are the benefits of palliative care at a Medical & Aged Care Group home?

We know that every person is unique, and that the approach to palliative care needs to be personal. At our MACG homes, we tailor our palliative care programme to provide personalised care. We engage as a family, by offering external support like grief counselling, palliative care education and pastoral care so families are well prepared for and supported through this journey.

  • We provide care and assistance 24-7. This brings families comfort, and ensures timely treatment.
  • We organise customised spiritual and pastoral guidance for our residents.
  • Our homes have been designed with fewer beds than most aged care homes. This is so that we can give specialised palliative support, and create a more homely environment.
  • To make life as easy as possible, we provide laundry and hotel services.
  • Our dedicated kitchen team have years of experience, and can tailor the menu to suit any dietary requirements.
  • We offer lots of different activities, which can help with pain management and emotional support. We organise events like meditation, pet and animal visits, and music therapy, and more.

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