What is the Difference Between Hospice and Home Care?

K. Allen
K. Allen
Hospice care is done at a facility devoted to caring for patients in their final days.
Hospice care is done at a facility devoted to caring for patients in their final days.

When a terminally ill individual chooses to no longer fight the illness or condition, he or she can instead receive hospice care. This is a type of care that focuses on making the individual as comfortable as possible during the final days, weeks or months of life. When used in reference to someone in the end stages of life, "home care" essentially means receiving hospice care in the home rather than in a hospice facility. The care is the same, and the only difference between hospice and home care is where it is received.

Some hospice care is offered within the individual's home, increasing the comfort level of the patient.
Some hospice care is offered within the individual's home, increasing the comfort level of the patient.

The philosophy of hospice has been in existence for hundreds of years, and there are facilities specializing in providing end-of-life care all over the world. In many regions, the concept of hospice has met with strong resistance. Many doctors are unable to embrace a treatment philosophy that does not include doing everything possible to keep a patient alive. This same attitude also is prevalent in various religious beliefs.

Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.
Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.

Hospice and home care for the terminally ill have gradually reached a greater level of acceptance. As people make arrangements for retirement and consider long term health alternatives, the different types of home care and assisted living options are discussed. This can often lead to a conversation about one's final days. It becomes the perfect opportunity for someone to make known whether he or she wishes to be kept alive by any means or allowed to die after being made as comfortable as possible.

When deciding between hospice and home care, there are several factors one should take into account. The primary consideration is where the patient will be the most comfortable. Some simply prefer to spend their last days at home, but others feel safer in a facility with an around-the-clock staff. This is also a very difficult time for family members, and hospice staff members, whether in a facility or through in-home care, are trained to offer emotional support for the family.

If the extended family is especially large, home care can sometimes be difficult. Most homes are not built to accommodate a lot of extra people for extended periods of time. This can prove to be somewhat chaotic and uncomfortable for the patient. A hospice facility can provide set visiting hours for all but the main family members and reduce a potential source of stress and conflict. For other people, the choice between hospice and home care comes down to not wanting to leave loved ones with the memory of a death in the home.

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    • Hospice care is done at a facility devoted to caring for patients in their final days.
      By: Fotoluminate LLC
      Hospice care is done at a facility devoted to caring for patients in their final days.
    • Some hospice care is offered within the individual's home, increasing the comfort level of the patient.
      By: Ocskay Bence
      Some hospice care is offered within the individual's home, increasing the comfort level of the patient.
    • Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.
      By: Hakan Kızıltan
      Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.