Non-Hospice Palliative Care



Non-Hospice Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with a chronic and/or a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness while simultaneously seeking life prolonging and curative therapies. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Non-Hospice Palliative care is provided by a team of nurses, social workers, and rehabilitation staff who coordinate the patient’s care and services with other providers as an extra resource of support.

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Non-Hospice Palliative care and hospice are not the same service. Non-Hospice Palliative care is appropriate at any time during a person’s chronic and/or serious illness. It can be provided at the same time the person is being treated for his or her disease.

Hospice provides care to people who have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less and are no longer seeking life-prolonging treatment.


Palliative care treats people suffering from serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and many more.

Palliative care focuses on symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression. It also helps you gain the strength to carry on with daily life. It improves your ability to tolerate medical treatments. And it helps you have more control over your care by improving your understanding of your choices for treatment.


Palliative care is a team approach to care. The core team includes doctor, nurse and social work palliative care specialists. Massage therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, chaplains and others may also be part of the team.

The team spends as much time as necessary with you and your family. They become a partner with you, your family and your other doctors. They support you and your family every step of the way, not only by controlling your symptoms, but also by helping you to understand your treatment options and goals.


What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness. You can have it at any age and any stage of an illness, and you can have it along with curative treatment. It is not dependent on prognosis.

Hospice is an important Medicare benefit that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients who may have only months to live. People who receive hospice are also no longer receiving curative treatment for their underlying disease.

How do I know if palliative care is right for me?

Palliative care may be right for you if you are experiencing pain, stress and other symptoms due to a serious illness. Serious illnesses include but are not limited to: cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and you can get it along with treatment meant to cure you.

What does palliative care do?

  • Pain and symptom control: Your palliative care team will identify your sources of pain and discomfort. These may include problems with breathing, fatigue, depression, insomnia, or bowel or bladder. Then the team will provide treatments that can offer relief. These might include medication, along with massage therapy or relaxation techniques.
  • Communication and coordination: Palliative care teams are extremely good communicators. They put great importance on communication between you, your family and your doctors in order to ensure that your needs are fully met. These include establishing goals for your care, help with decision-making and coordination of care.
  • Emotional support: Palliative care focuses on the entire person, not just the illness. The team members caring for you will address any social, psychological, emotional or spiritual needs you may have.
  • Family/caregiver support: Caregivers bear a great deal of stress too, so the palliative care team supports them as well. This focused attention helps ease some of the strain and can help you with your decision making.

Who else, besides the patient, can benefit?

Everyone involved! Patients as well as family caregivers are the special focus of palliative care. Your doctors and nurses benefit too, because they know they are meeting your needs by providing care and treatment that reduces your suffering and improves your quality of life.

Will my insurance cover palliative care?

Most insurance plans cover all or part of the palliative care treatment you receive, just as with other hospital and medical services. This is also true of Medicare and Medicaid. If costs concern you, a social worker or financial consultant from the palliative care team can help you with payment options.

Do I have to give up my own doctor?

The palliative care team provides an extra layer of support and works in partnership with your primary doctor. Your primary doctor will continue to direct your care and play an active role in your treatment.

Can I have curative treatment together with palliative care?

Absolutely.  Your treatment choices are up to you. You can get palliative care at the same time as treatment meant to cure you.