Advance Care Planning
Advance care planning is making decisions about the care you would want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself. Advance care planning includes:

  • Getting information on the types of life-sustaining treatments that are available.

  • Deciding what types of treatment you would or would not want should you be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

  • Sharing your personal values with your loved ones.

  • Completing advance directives to put into writing what types of treatment you would or would not want should you be unable to speak for yourself.
     

Palliative Care
The goals of palliative care are to provide symptom management, pain control, and spiritual, emotional, and social support to patients and families facing the stresses of serious illness. 

Palliative care differs from hospice as it is provided early and across the course of the illness.  

A patient is not required to have a terminal illness to receive palliative care.  Palliative care can be provided when patients are seeking aggressive life-prolonging and curative treatment.

Palliative care is provided in the hospital and outpatient clinics, and can be provided in the home.

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care:

All hospice is palliative care, but not all palliative care is hospice.

 
Hospice
The goal of hospice is to provide alleviation of pain and other symptoms that accompany life-limiting illness at the end of life.  Hospice strives to also provide social, spiritual, and emotional support of the patient and family during the stresses caused by dealing with life-limiting illness.

 Hospice is a program, not a place.  Hospice services can be provided wherever the patient calls home.  This could be in his or her home, a relative’s home, a skilled nursing facility, or assisted living. 

Hospice has four levels of care.

  1. Routine level of care is care provided in the home, skilled nursing facility, or assisted living when a patient’s symptoms are managed and the family is coping well.
  2. General inpatient is a level of care to which a patient is moved when his or her symptoms are out of control or no longer manageable in his or her home.  This level of care is provided in a skilled nursing facility or an inpatient hospice unit.
  3. Continuous care is similar to general inpatient level of care.  This is when the patient is provided care in his or her home 24 hours a day when a patient has symptoms requiring constant nursing management.  The nursing management continues in the home until symptoms are managed.
  4. Respite care is provided when the patient caregiver is overwhelmed or is in need of a respite.  The hospice will provide a short stay in a skilled nursing facility or board and care residence.  This respite usually lasts no more than 5 days.

 To qualify for hospice, a patient must have two physicians who agree that the patient has a limited life expectancy of six months or less.  This being said, if a patient continues to qualify for hospice after six months, the patient may continue to have hospice benefits.

 

Information for this page was compiled from the Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.