Hospice, Palliative and End-of-life Care
What is hospice care?
Hospice care aims to improve the lives of people whose illness is no longer curable. It helps them to live as fully as possible to the end. It seeks to relieve the physical symptoms of illness while equally addressing the patient’s emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice care also provides support to families and those who are important to the patient, and extends its reach into bereavement.
Hospice care can be provided in various care settings, such as a hospice, people’s homes, a hospital or a nursing home.
What is palliative care?
The terms ‘hospice care’ and ‘palliative care’ are sometimes used interchangeably. Palliative care is the term generally used by those working in the health service.
Palliative Medicine is a recognised medical specialty in Ireland. A doctor specialising in this area is known as a Consultant Physician in Palliative Medicine or Palliative Care Consultant. Specially trained nurses working in hospices or as part of a specialist palliative care team in a hospital or in the community are Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) in Palliative Care.
Click here for the World Health Organisation’s definition of palliative care.
What is end-of-life care?
Understanding of the term ‘end-of-life care’ is not universal. In the Irish Hospice Foundation we use this term to refer to all aspects of the care provided to a person with a life-limiting illness, from the time of diagnosis through the last months of life, up to and including the final hours. We consider ‘end of life’ to be a continuum rather than a point of time.
For more detailed information on these and other terms as used by the Irish Hospice Foundation, see Definitions.