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Palliative care has been provided to seriously ill patients for the past thirty years by hospice programs in America. Currently, palliative care programs serve more than 1 million patients and their families each year, and they are being used by other health care providers, including teams in hospitals, nursing facilities and home health care agencies in combination with other medical treatments to help people who are seriously ill.
While hospice and palliative care both focus on helping a terminally ill person be as comfortable as possible by addressing issues that are causing physical or emotional pain, or suffering. Hospice and other palliative care providers have teams of people working together, with the main goal being to provide care and support to the patient and their family members during this tough time.
While hospice care focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting patients with a life expectancy of less than six months, palliative care may be provided at any time during the patient's illness, from the diagnosis onward. Most hospices have a set of defined services, team members and rules and regulations. Some hospices even provide palliative care as a separate program or service, which can sometimes be a bit confusing to the patients and families.
Palliative care providers will become a partner with you, your family, and your other doctors, while supporting you and your family every step of the way, not just by controlling your loved one's symptoms, but by helping you to understand your loved one's health goals and treatment options.