What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Medically examined Kathryn Kirkland, MD

Palliative care

  • Is a form of specialized care to help people with serious illnesses and their families live their best lives

  • It focuses on managing or reducing pain and other symptoms and offers other interventions aimed at improving quality of life

  • It can be used alongside curative medical treatments and can help patients understand their treatment options and make treatment choices that align with their goals and values

  • It can be helpful in any stage of serious illness

  • There is no set length of care and it depends on what you need and what insurance will cover it (if you have insurance)

Who makes up the palliative care team?

Team members work together to provide whole-person care, in collaboration with the patient’s other health care providers.

Palliative care can be provided in:

Hospice care

Hospice care can be provided in:

  • Patient’s home

  • Hospice center

  • Nursing home

  • Hospital (less often)

Who makes up the hospice care team?

Did you know? Hospice does not mean the end of all treatments – only those (such as chemotherapy for cancer) intended to treat the disease.


  • For people with serious illnesses

  • Help manage symptoms and make decisions that are consistent with their goals

  • Offer physical and emotional support to patients and families

  • It may be covered by Medicare or other insurance

Palliative only:

Hospice only:

To find a hospice and palliative care facility near you, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

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