Palliative Care VS. Home Health Care

Palliative Care is often confused with home health and vice versa. Admittedly, there are some similarities between the two types of needed service as they both typically take place in a patient’s home. However, they are also subtly different in a couple of notable areas, though each seeks to make life easier for patients as they either learn to live with a condition or help them recover from an injury or illness. Both play a role in improving the quality of life and helping patients and their families deal with illness, injury, and chronic conditions. Read on to learn more about each type of care, along with how they differ:

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a type of care that addresses symptoms related to serious or advanced illness. Its purpose is to heal pain or reduce symptoms and increase the quality of life for patients who are living with illnesses or undergoing treatments like chemotherapy or radiation. This is a skilled type of care that is designed for patients with serious illnesses. It includes a team of specialists like doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with the patient’s doctors. Palliative care is applicable for any age of patient in any stage of a serious illness, though it is often sought during the more advanced stages before moving into Hospice. It can even be used to relieve symptoms and stress related to a disease. For example, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, and more can all be addressed to help patients be able to live a better quality of life.

Qualifying Factors for Palliative Care

Living with advanced diseases like the following can indicate a patient would benefit from palliative care, (Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and your doctor will be able to help you determine if palliative care is right for you):

  • Renal/ESRD
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder
  • Heart Failure

What is Home Health Care?

Home health care is actually very much what it sounds like: health care services given to patients in the comfort of their own homes by volunteers, aides, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers, and nurses. Home health is a prescription service ordered by a doctor and can be given as a way to treat an injury, illness, or chronic, less severe condition. The overall goal of home health is to treat the injury or illness with the intent of the patient getting better and once again being independent and self-sufficient. It can be either long-term or short-term in nature or can eventually move into another type of care like palliative or hospice care. However, on its own, home health care is very much focused on treating a patient’s illness or injury.

Services Provided as Part of Home Health

While there might be many others, the following is a look at some of the common reasons a patient might be prescribed home health care by their doctor and/or the types of services offered:

  • Pulmonary Disease Education and Management
  • Cardiac Disease Education and Management
  • Catheter Care
  • Feeding Tube Management
  • Colostomy & Ileostomy
  • Type 2 Diabetes Education and Management
  • IV Therapy and Site Care Management
  • Home Health Aides
  • Medication Education
  • Wound Care and Wound-Vac Management

Key Differences Between Home Health Care and Palliative Care

While there are many similarities between these two types of care, there are a few key differences that set them apart from each other. The following is a breakdown of how they differ and why a patient might benefit from one type of care over another:

The Timing

Home health can be applicable during various stages and severity of an injury, illness, or recovery. Palliative care, though, is aimed more at helping patients with symptoms of serious illnesses. It is designed to be focused on symptom management instead of on curing a patient or helping them recover.

The Focus

Again, home health care is primarily focused on curing the patient of their illness or injury and preventing additional injuries via infection. In other words, the goal is for them to recover, and no longer need care. Palliative care is more about symptom management than seeking a cure. Of course, it can be used alongside curative treatments as well though. The main focus, though, is quality of life, which is what it prioritizes. It can also address stress and anxiety-related issues that might be present due to the advanced stage of illness.

The Duration

Palliative care is often provided over a more extended period of time, along with curative treatment. It is also most applicable for advanced stages of a disease and is ideal when a patient isn’t ready for hospice care yet, for a variety of reasons, including spiritual, emotional, and physical issues. Home health care, though, is typically shorter, though recoveries can take a while, so there are instances where long-term home care is appropriate and necessary. It is applicable even for minor illnesses and injuries though. It can also have an educational aspect, teaching patients how to do their own care and reducing the risk of infection.

The Services

Home health care can include nonmedical services like counseling or other forms of help. Of course, it can also be medical in nature and often is, but the idea is to provide comprehensive care to patients in their homes while they recover from an injury, or illness, or are undergoing treatment for an illness. This, again, can include educating them on their own care. Palliative care addresses more holistic needs and quality of life issues. It offers patients mental services as well as social services, counseling, and more, all in an effort to increase the quality of their lives while they fight a disease or while they live with a chronic illness. It can even be a big part of transitioning a patient into hospice, getting them spiritually, emotionally, and physically prepared. Palliative care often includes an entire team of specialists to assist a patient as they live with an advanced disease.

Bottom Line: They Both Play a Unique and Necessary Role

While both of these services can take place at a patient’s home, and they are both designed to treat the patient’s entire body, not just their physical problems, home health is set up to be much more temporary in nature. The idea is to provide needed medical care and even counseling and education to patients as they recover or go through the treatment process. Palliative care is much more focused on improving a patient’s quality of life. It is learning to live with an advanced disease or chronic illness, and it is often part of the process that leads to hospice, which is more end-of-life care. Contact us today at Doctor’s Choice Home Care & Hospice to learn more about our home health and palliative services.

Back to News
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram