Distinguishing home health, palliative and hospice care

Today marks the start of Home Care and Hospice Month. While Parkview is privileged to offer home health, palliative and hospice services to our community, we find it can be difficult for families to understand what distinguishes one from the other. Here, the team offers a comprehensive outline of each.

Home health care

Parkview’s home health services are focused on recovery from illness, injury or surgery. Patients have access to skilled nursing care, physical, occupational and speech therapy, home health aide (personal care, companion services), medical social worker, home infusion and nutrition counseling. Caregivers also utilize telehealth 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. Palliative care is a supplement to a patient’s treatment plan. The goal is to prevent or ease suffering and improve quality of life.

A team of experts from multiple disciplines assesses and addresses the complex needs of the seriously ill patient and his/her family members. These professionals develop a comprehensive care plan to treat the patient:

• 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

Palliative care is right for any person suffering from pain or other symptoms, including shortness of breath, nausea, anxiety or sleeplessness due to advanced or chronic illness such as:

• Cancer
• Heart disease
• Respiratory disorders (COPD/emphysema)
• Liver failure• Kidney failure
• Alzheimer’s disease/dementia
• Neuromuscular diseases (multiple sclerosis, ALS)

Palliative care:

• Treats the whole person by offering medical, emotional and spiritual support.
• Provides treatment of pain and other symptoms so patients can get the best relief possible.
• Opens discussions about treatment choices, including treatment for diseases and management of symptoms.
• Offers guidance and support for di cult or complex medical decisions.
• Assists with discussions concerning goals of are and advance directives.
• Assists with communication and coordination of care between healthcare providers.
• Eases transitions between healthcare settings.
• Offers compassionate family support.

Hospice care

Hospice care is specialized healthcare provided by skilled professionals and volunteers that focuses on providing comfort. Our 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. At this time, the 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 hasten death. Hospice does not take away medications that are needed to keep a person comfortable. Hospice does not take away patient rights. Hospice is comfort care.

Parkview Hospice staff develops a unique care plan for each patient. Management of the patient’s care is provided by our diverse team, including:

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

The Hospice care team meets every 14 days to review each patient’s case and make any needed changes.

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. Family members, clergy, friends or patient referrals are also accepted. The admission process begins with a hospice nurse, who assesses the patient’s condition and explains the services and benefits. During the assessment, medical, social, spiritual and personal needs are discussed.

What is the difference between palliative care and hospice?

Put simply, 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.


For more information, or for answers to your questions about the palliative care services at Parkview, call (260) 266-2500. To receive more information or refer a friend or family member for hospice care, call (260) 373-9800 or 800-363-9977, or visit parkview.com/hospice.

TTY service for the hearing impaired is available at 260-373-6096 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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