Home Health, Palliative and Hospice Care: What are the Differences?

Home Health, Palliative and Hospice Care: What are the Differences?

April 8, 2020

what's the difference

In recent weeks we have been hearing more and more healthcare providers share their experiences in dealing with COVID-19 from various healthcare settings. In particular we have heard that although the pandemic isn’t hitting the hospice, home health or palliative care settings as hard as general health systems many people may be confused on what is the difference between Hospice, HomeHealth and Palliative Care and why they aren’t necessarily the same as hospital setting we are hearing so much about in the news. We’re here to help with the confusion. Below is a description of each type of care and how they are different from each other and general hospital or primary care.

Home health care

Home health services are focused on recovery from illness, injury or surgery. In Home Health, patients typically have access to skilled nursing care, physical, occupational and speech therapy, home health aides, medical social workers, home infusion and nutrition counseling. Caregivers also utilize telehealth and nurse triage technology to make care as convenient as possible.

Palliative care

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with serious illness. This type of care focuses on providing relief from symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness such as cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, AIDS, liver failure and kidney failure . Palliative care is a supplement to a patient’s treatment plan and the primary goal is to prevent or ease suffering and improve quality of life by:

• Treating the whole person and offering medical, emotional and spiritual support.
• Providing a treatment of pain and other symptoms so patients can get the best relief possible.
• Opening discussions about treatment choices, including treatment for diseases and management of symptoms.
• Offering guidance and support for difficult or complex medical decisions.
• Assisting with discussions concerning goals of are and advance directives.
• Assisting with communication and coordination of care between healthcare providers.
• Easing transitions between healthcare settings.
• Offering compassionate family support.

A team of experts from multiple disciplines assesses and addresses the needs of the patient and develop a comprehensive care plan to treat the patient which can include the following:

• Palliative care trained physicians
• Advanced practice nurses
• Registered nurses
• Social workers
• Spiritual care providers
• Pharmacists
• Dietitians
• Occupational, physical and speech therapists
• Wound care specialists
• Psychologists

Hospice Care

Hospice care is specialized healthcare provided by skilled professionals and volunteers that focuses on providing comfort during the end of life process. The assigned care team uses techniques that manage a patient’s pain and symptoms. Hospice is designed for patients no longer seeking medical treatment for a disease. The primary goal is to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support that allows the individual to live as fully as possible, in the end stages of life.

Hospice does not accelerate the death process, it does not take away medications that are needed to keep a person comfortable and Hospice does not take away patient rights. Hospice does however provide compassion, dignity and comfort during the end stages of life.

Hospice staff develops a unique care plan for each patient and the management of the patient’s care is provided by a diverse team, that may include:

• Personal physician of the patient
• Hospice medical director
• Registered nurse
• Home health aide
• Medical social worker
• Chaplain
• Volunteers
• Pharmacist
• Music therapist
• Massage therapist

Generally, the patient’s physician, a hospital, long-term care or assisted-living facility staff member or other healthcare provider, including community service agencies, refer a patient for hospice care. During the assessment, medical, social, spiritual and personal needs are discussed. Hospice care is typically provided in a home setting and telehealth services are available for patients after hours and weekends through services like Intellatriage.

What is the difference between home health, palliative care and hospice?

Put simply, home health care is typically provided for individuals who are treating a long term illness (but may not be terminally ill) or caring for a post operative procedure. Palliative care is appropriate at any time during a patient’s advanced or chronic illness and can be administered at the same time as regular treatment that is meant to cure the patient. Hospice focuses on caring for terminally ill patients who no longer seek treatments for their illness and are expected to live for approximately six months or less. In each of these cases virtual care or telehealth can and is most likely provided. Usually the afterhours triage care is provided by a third party nurse triage expert like IntellaTriage to provide seamless care to patients and family members.

If you like to learn more about our Nurse Triage Services, contact us today to start a conversation.