"We are all just walking each other home." -Ram Dass

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a holistic approach to health care for those with a life-limiting illness. The goal of hospice is to alleviate pain and control symptoms with an emphasis on quality of life.

The hospice care team surrounds the patient and family with a “circle of care” made up of several professionals focused on providing spiritual, social, emotional and medical support. This approach ensures the decision-making process includes the patient and family, allowing greater control over their care.

Hospice vs. Palliative Care

There some similarities and differences between the two types of care.

Hospice Care


  • Available to terminally ill Medicaid participants. Each State decides the length of the life expectancy a patient must have to receive hospice care under Medicaid. In some States it is up to 6 months; in other States, up to 12 months. Check with your State Medicaid agency if you have questions.
  • Makes the patient comfortable and prepares the patient and the patient’s family for the patient’s end of life when it is determined treatment for the illness will no longer be pursued.
  • Does not use life-prolonging medications.
  • Relies on a family caregiver and a visiting hospice nurse. Is offered at a place the patient prefers such as in their home; in a nursing home; or, occasionally, in a hospital.


Palliative Care

  • Focuses on relief from physical suffering. The patient may be being treated for a disease or may be living with a chronic disease and may or may not be terminally ill.
  • Addresses the patient’s physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being, is appropriate for patients in all disease stages, and accompanies the patient from diagnosis to cure.
  • Uses life-prolonging medications.
  • Uses a multi-disciplinary approach using highly trained professionals. Is usually offered where the patient first sought treatment.

*Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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