As Americans with chronic illness are living longer, more patients and families are faced with difficult questions about quality end-of-life care and what makes life worth living. As November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, it is important to bring this critical conversation to the forefront and encourage nurses who are on the frontline working with patients and families to be aware of the difference between palliative and hospice care, when they should be discussed and implemented, and the critical need for both services.

Defining Palliative and Hospice Care

There has been a shift in thought over the last forty years, with the recognition that extending life isn’t necessarily more important than quality of life, and palliative and hospice care have helped support this critical gap. However, confusion exists between the two, with most people familiar with hospice care but unsure about the term palliative care. While the disciplines may offer overlapping benefits at times, palliative and hospice care are distinct.

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