Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care


Today, there exists much confusion about the similarities and differences between palliative care and hospice, or end-of-life care.  Unlike hospice, palliative care can be initiated at any point during a patient’s illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.  Research demonstrates that palliative care improves symptom distress, quality of life, patient and family well being, and in some cases, survival rates.  Research also shows that palliative care can significantly reduce costs.  A 2008 research study published by the American Medical Association found that palliative care consultations in the hospital setting seems to “fundamentally shift” the course of care off the usual pathway and, in doing so, significantly reduces costs while improving quality of care.

As a formally recognized medical subspecialty, palliative medicine practitioners work in collaboration with other specialists to care for patients with serious or advanced illness.   They have expertise in pain and symptom management and the communication skills necessary to facilitate discussions with patients and families about treatment options and preferences as well as goals of care.

The palliative care program of Merrimack Valley Hospice, established in 2011, consists of:

  • Physicians board certified in hospice and palliative care
  • Nurse practitioners with extensive experience in pain and symptom management
  • Social workers who are knowledgeable about the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that often accompany a serious or life-threatening illness

Our palliative care physicians and nurse practitioners act as consultants providing advice, treatment options as well as aggressive pain and symptom management.  Together, the entire team works in collaboration with the patient’s physicians to ensure optimum care coordination.  Palliative care services are available to patients at home, in long-term care and assisted living facilities and in the hospital.  Patients can also receive palliative care while receiving skilled nursing and rehabilitation from Home Health VNA. 

To make a referral, contact our Referral Department at 1-800-333-4799 or refer on-line in the Arrange for Care section of this web site.

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