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Palliative or Supportive Care

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Palliative or Supportive Care

The Washington Post had a good article explaining the differences between palliative or supportive care and hospice care. Many providers use the terms interchangeably despite their clear differences. Palliative care is a specialty that focuses on providing relief from a serious illness to improve the quality of life. Palliative care improves quality of life in patients with serious conditions. It also has been shown to actually help people live longer. However, hospice is a service delivered at home or in a facility for someone expected to die in less than six months.

A recent study analyzed the public’s perception of palliative care. The results revealed that over 70 percent did not even know what it was. Of the 30% aware of the care, two-thirds thought it was the same as hospice.

Diane Meier directs the Center to Advance Palliative Care. She said “doctors are the group most fearful of death.” To increase use and acceptability for both patients and clinicians, many want to substitute the name “palliative care” with “supportive care.”

A study showed that changing the name led to an increase in referrals by 41 percent and also earlier referrals. Patients seen by “supportive care” lived on average for 6.2 months, compared with 4.7 months among patients seen by “palliative care.” Words matter. They should focus on what palliative care does and the benefits. Supportive care increases the quality and quantity of life for most residents.

Ask your caregiver about the getting supportive care for your loved ones. It will improve the quality of life. Let us know if we can help.

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