Home care, palliative care, or hospice?

There are many different types of health care you can receive in your home, but many people do not know what’s available, or what the different options are. November is National Home Care, Hospice, and Palliative Care Month, which is a great time to explain the differences in home health care and share how each may be beneficial to you or a loved one.

What is Home Care?

Home care is a health care service you receive in your home. Typically, someone who has recently been discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation facility will get extra support at home through home care. The goal of home care is to improve your quality of life, increase your strength, and prevent another stay in the hospital.

Home health services include Care coordination, intravenous or nutrition therapy, frequent falling, functional decline, mobility issues, monitoring chronic illness, new diagnosis, pain management, patient education, physical rehabilitation, safety management in the home, speech therapy, wound care.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. The palliative care team helps those dealing with cancer, advanced heart, lung, or kidney disease, and many other conditions. This help can include pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, assistance with difficult decision making, and coordination of care.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a type of palliative care focused on helping patients who are considered by their physicians to be in the last six months of life and/or want to focus on having the highest level of support and comfort for themselves and their family.

Hospice care is generally delivered where the patient resides (in their home or other facility) except for those patients needing intensive symptom management in an inpatient hospice facility. The hospice team of professionals works together under the direction of the patients preferred physician to provide for the needs of the patient and their loved ones.

It is important to understand that there is help that you can receive in the comfort of your home. Talk to your primary care doctor about the options available in your community.


Dr. Alexander Nesbitt is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine, geriatrics, and family medicine. Susquehanna Home Care & Hospice, part of UPMC Home Healthcare of Central Pennsylvania, is the region’s largest, most comprehensive home health care company, offering a complete range of services including traditional visiting nurse services, hospice inpatient and outpatient, telemonitoring, Nurse-Family Partnership, rehabilitation services and home infusion. For more information, visit UPMCSusquehanna.org.


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