Though the two are often confused, palliative care is not the same as hospice care. While both provide care for people with serious illnesses, there are important differences between the two. Both are focused on maximizing comfort and quality of life.
Hospice care is time-limited, dedicated to patients with an incurable illness whose life expectancy is very limited (days, weeks or months) and who are no longer seeking life-extending treatment. Palliative care, on the other hand, can be appropriate for anyone with a chronic medical condition, such as cancer, renal failure, or congestive heart failure. The goal of this specialized type of medical care is to maximize quality of life and manage challenging symptoms for these patients while they continue to receive treatment for their chronic disease.
Palliative care is appropriate for patients with serious illness, at any age and at any stage. At Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital's Palliative Care Program, support is provided by a team of Yale Medicine doctors and nurses who specialize in palliative medicine along with a social worker, psychologist, art therapist, and chaplain. Each of these highly trained professionals provides patients with an extra layer of support (including pain management) throughout the course of their illness.
“We feel a deep sense of gratitude when we can make a meaningful impact in the lives of our patients and their loved ones,” says Dmitry Kozhevnikov, DO, director of outpatient palliative care at the Smilow Care Centers. “Our role is to support the oncologist, patient, and family, while helping to make each day the best it can be.”