Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?


Hospice is a program that gives special care to people who are near the end of life and have decided to stop treatment to cure or control their disease.

Palliative Care
Palliative care is designed for anyone with a serious, complex, or often terminal illness at any stage of the disease process,

regardless of age.


Hospice When Does Hospice Come In? 

Hospice comes in when a physician or specialist evaluates the patient and concludes that, based on the current course of their condition, their life expectancy is unlikely to exceed 6-months. If the 6-month mark passes and the patient is still alive, hospice can continue with recertification from a medical professional as long as it remains medically appropriate.


Isn’t Hospice Just for Cancer Patients?

Historically, Hospice and Palliative care mainly targeted cancer patients, but now it encompasses various life-limiting diseases such as CHF (congestive heart failure), COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), MS (multiple sclerosis), ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease), dementia (including Alzheimer’s type), abnormal weight loss, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological conditions.


Does Hospice Referral Guarantee I’ll Qualify?

No, being referred for hospice does not guarantee qualification. A hospice nurse needs to assess the person to determine their eligibility for services. An intake team reviews each hospice referral, examining the person’s medical records for the last 6 months (minimum) to find information that supports qualification for hospice care.

Palliative Care

Why Do They Call it Palliative Care?

Palliative is derived from the Latin word ‘palliare’, meaning “to cloak”. When you cloak something, you cover it, protect it, wrap your arms around it.  That’s exactly what Palliative care (and Hospice care) does. It’s a team of caregivers wrapping their arms around you, literally and figuratively, to help you in ways you might not even know you need help.


I Just Found Out I’ve Been Diagnosed With a Chronic or Potentially Terminal Illness… When Can I Ask for Palliative Care?

Right away. Statistics show that physicians are beginning to refer their patients with advanced conditions for palliative care within 8 weeks of the diagnosis.


Can I Get Physical Therapy and Palliative Care at the Same Time

Yes, unlike hospice care, which focuses solely on comfort and does not include curative treatment, palliative care can be provided alongside curative or restorative treatments. This may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, radiation, chemotherapy, dialysis, etc

General FAQ's

• Comfort care addresses physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs of a person with a life-limiting illness.
• Hospice is comfort care without curative intent.
• Palliative care is comfort care with or without curative intent.

Yes. Both Hospice and Palliative services focus on the quality of life for the person and their family who face the problems that
life-threatening illnesses can cause.

No. Hospice care and Palliative care can be provided wherever the person is: home, apartment, assisted living facility, independent
living facility, nursing home, or long-term care facility. One difference is that Palliative care can be provided in an ER or hospital
room, while Hospice care would cease if the patient is admitted to the hospital, then resume when the person returns to where
they live.

Both Hospice and Palliative care require a referral from the patient’s medical provider. Often this is the PCP (Primary Care Physician) but the referral can also come from any specialist treating the person for the chronic/terminal illness.

Both Hospice and Palliative care are composed of an interdisciplinary team of professionals who focus on improving quality of
life. It may include, but is not limited to, a nurse, bath aide, chaplain and a social worker, all scheduling visits as often as needed
to monitor care.

Hospice and Palliative care serve as a safety net, providing specialized support from a team of experienced professionals to improve life quality and manage illnesses that impact life length. They enable individuals to stay in their current living environment as their disease advances, with the help of Hospice services.

No. Both Palliative and Hospice care are provided by health care team members who schedule visits to provide care. Neither is 24-hour care. Many patients and their families hire private duty caregivers to stay with the patient if more constant, hands-on
assistance is needed.

One major focus of both Hospice and Palliative care is the prevention of and relief from suffering or pain.

Both Palliative and Hospice provide and cover the cost of needed equipment such as a hospital bed, wheelchair, shower chair, bedside commode, supplement nutritional shakes, incontinence briefs, etc

The patient can decide to stop receiving services from either hospice or palliative care at any time without a doctor’s consent. This decision can also be made by the patient or their family.

The good news is that the expenses for palliative care and hospice care are typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances. The most often-quoted statement from Hospice patients and Palliative patients and their families is: “I wish I had known about this sooner”. Don’t wait. Talk to your medical professional about a referral for Palliative or Hospice care. Additionally, if you have concerns about medication costs, hospice covers the expenses for medications directly related to the disease or diagnosis that qualifies the person for services.

For example, if congestive heart failure is the qualifying diagnosis, all cardiac-related or heart-related medications would be covered. However, medications unrelated to the qualifying diagnosis, like cranberry pills for bladder health, would not be covered. Furthermore, all pain-relieving medications, known as “comfort meds,” would be covered.