The notion of death and the process of dying are often experienced as tragedies, especially in the western culture. Thus, the medical model of care performed in our western culture includes life-saving measures and curative treatments. However, there may be a time in a person’s life when a cure may no longer be an option. That is the time when palliative or hospice care can step in to afford the patient and the family the opportunity to maximize the remaining time spent together. This paper will compare and contrast palliative care with the hospice model.
In addition, end-of-life care related to physical well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being, and spiritual well-being will be addressed based on my experience as a student nurse with Hospice of San Joaquin. Finally, the views of end-of-life care will be discussed as it relates to the hospice model. Palliative care and hospice care share a common thread. They are both models of care that take a holistic and individualized approach to anticipate and alleviate the symptoms and suffering that arise from chronic and terminal illnesses (Witt Sherman, D. , & Cheon, J. , 2012).
They both encompass the patient and family as the center of care and provide comprehensive assessments and comfort measures to patients with terminal illnesses. The care continues past the death of the patient and can continue into the bereavement period for family. Hospice will continue to support the bereaved family up to one year past the death of the patient (Hospice of San Joaquin, 2010). Both models utilize an interdisciplinary approach to care with team members that include physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual members, massage therapists, and home health aids and others.
Palliative care can be utilized during any time during the course of an illness and disease process. The cost of cure can be extensive and both palliative and hospice care limit medical interventions that can significantly increase healthcare costs. Data substantiating improved quality of life for the patient and the families as well as improved coordination of care have been identified as valuable outcomes in both palliative and hospice care (Hospice of San Joaquin, 2010).
Both models allow for services to be provided in the home, in extended care facilities, hospitals, and community home-based programs and outpatient clinics (Witt Sherman, D. , & Cheon, J. , 2012). The differences between the programs are centered on the time the care is available. Palliative care is available during any point of the illness from time of diagnosis through the bereavement period for families. In addition, palliative care may be offered while life-prolonging treatments are being administered (Witt Sherman, D. & Cheon, J. , 2012).
Hospice care is available during the end of life and typically, but not always, takes place the last six months of the patient’s life. If the dying process exceeds six months, hospice care can be suspended and restarted when the patient’s life expectancy falls below six months (Hospice of San Joaquin, 2010). Hospice care may be offered in all settings previously mentioned, as well as hospice units and residential hospices (Witt Sherman, D. , & Cheon, J. , 2012).
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