Hospice and Palliative Care: What’s the Difference?

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Hospice and Palliative Care What's the Difference
Many seniors in Canada spend their final days in hospitals or nursing homes, where the care they receive may not always reflect their personal preferences. Navigating the complexities of healthcare, especially when it comes to end-of-life care, presents several challenges. A key aspect of this is understanding the difference between hospice care and palliative care.

While both aim to improve the quality of life for those with chronic medical conditions, they fulfill distinct roles and cater to different phases in a patient’s journey. This article aims to shed light on these differences, offering valuable guidance to seniors and caregivers in Canada.


What is Palliative Care?


Palliative care is a specialized form of medical care that offers a wide range of support to individuals grappling with serious illnesses. Its primary goal is to alleviate symptoms, effectively manage pain, and address the side effects associated with these conditions, with a focus on ensuring the patient’s utmost comfort. 

Palliative Care


When is Palliative Care Initiated?


One of the remarkable aspects of palliative care lies in its versatility, as it can be initiated at any stage of a serious illness. Whether at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, or even in the later stages, palliative care remains a valuable resource. This approach takes into account the overall picture, aiming to relieve symptoms and enhance the quality of life for patients. It includes crucial aspects such as pain management, counseling, and nutritional guidance.


What is Hospice Care?


Hospice care is a specialized form of palliative care designed for individuals nearing the end of their life. Unlike palliative care, which aims to treat the underlying illness, hospice care focuses solely on providing comfort and enhancing the individual’s quality of life.



What Triggers the Transition to Hospice Care?


The transition to hospice care typically occurs when a patient’s life expectancy is six months or less, and when the focus of treatment shifts from curative to purely comfort-based care.


Read More: 5 Stages of Palliative Care at Home – Everything You Need to Know!



Comparing the Two: Hospice Care vs Palliative Care


Below are the key differences between Palliative and Hospice Care:


1. Scope of Care:


  • Palliative Care: Broad, available at any illness stage, can accompany curative treatments.
  • Hospice Care: Specific to end-of-life, no curative treatments involved.


2. Duration:


  • Palliative Care: Can begin at diagnosis and continue through treatment and beyond.
  • Hospice Care: Typically starts when life expectancy is six months or less.


3. Care Settings:


  •  Palliative Care: Hospitals, outpatient clinics, home-based services.
  •   Hospice Care: Hospice facilities, home-based services, nursing homes.


How Do Families Decide Between Palliative and Hospice Care?


The choice between palliative and hospice care depends on the patient’s stage of illness, goals for treatment, and overall prognosis.  Patients with a range of conditions can benefit from palliative care, including those suffering from: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • COPD
  • HIV


The decision to opt for palliative care is typically made when a patient and their healthcare team determine that managing symptoms and improving quality of life are the primary goals.

Hospice care is chosen in more specific circumstances, usually when curative treatments are no longer effective or desired, and the focus shifts entirely to comfort and quality of life in the patient’s final months.


Comparing Payment Options:


In terms of payment, most health insurance plans in Canada cover palliative care, although coverage details may vary. 

On the other hand, Hospice care is widely covered by health insurances like Medicare, and Medicaid. Notably, hospice services are accessible regardless of the patient’s financial situation, ensuring that end-of-life care is available to everyone in need.




Palliative and hospice care both aim to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life, but they serve different stages of an illness. Understanding these differences is crucial for seniors and caregivers in Canada, enabling them to make informed decisions that align with their values and the patient’s wishes. 


Want to Learn More?


ConsidraCare’s caregivers for seniors are trained to offer professional support and companionship to seniors. Please reach out to us at wecare@considracare.com or call us at 1-855-410-7971.




1. What is the primary goal of palliative care?


The primary goal of palliative care is to alleviate symptoms, manage pain, and improve the patient’s comfort.


2. What is the main focus of hospice care?


The main focus of hospice care is to provide comfort and enhance the individual’s quality of life in the final months of their life.


3. Can palliative care be provided alongside curative treatments?


Yes, palliative care can be provided alongside curative treatments, focusing on symptom management and improving the patient’s quality of life.


4. How are palliative care services covered in Canada?


Most health insurance plans in Canada cover palliative care, although coverage details may vary. Furthermore, ConsidraCare Canada also provides palliative care services in an affordable budget.  


5.How are hospice care services covered in Canada?


Hospice care is widely covered by health insurance plans like Medicare and Medicaid. Regardless of the patient’s financial situation, hospice services ensure accessibility to end-of-life care.

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