Palliative Care versus Hospice Care…Alike and Different

Every November the Healthcare industry recognizes National Hospice and Palliative Care month. The two practices are celebrated together, as they share a similar philosophy on person-centered care and an interdisciplinary team approach focused on quality of life. But they also share misunderstandings about what each practice offers.

Hospice care is elected when a patient and family wish to go from a curative plan of care to one of comfort and caring. Hospice addresses a patient’s pain and symptom management, and overall well-being from an interdisciplinary approach – including physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Care supports both the patient and their family, helping bring focus to quality of life and allowing a patient to focus on and realize their wishes for their final life chapter.

Palliative care helps individuals with a serious illness, at any age and any stage of their illness. Patients do not require a terminal diagnosis and often still receive curative treatment for their condition. Palliative care provides a specialized team, including clinical, social workers, and pastoral care, who work with patients to help them understand their treatment options and can act as a central coordinator of care – which can be extremely beneficial in the often overwhelming early days following the diagnosis of a serious illness. Care is intended to improve quality of life and give a patient more control by improving their ability to cope with their disease.

Common illnesses addressed by both palliative and hospice care include cardiac and respiratory illnesses, cancer, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, kidney disease, and more. Both practices address symptoms for comfort, including pain, shortness of breath, depression, nausea, and difficulty sleeping, to name a few.  The largest difference is in the individualized decision to continue treatment for disease, which palliative care addresses, or cease treatment and focus on quality of life and final wishes with hospice. With both practices, early intervention is most beneficial to the patient.

RVNAhealth offers both hospice and palliative care in the home or at a patient’s facility. If you have questions or would like to discuss a potential palliative or hospice care need, please contact us at 203.438.5555.

A Month of Thankfulness but an Honor Year-Round

As November brings a celebration of thankfulness with the Thanksgiving holiday, at RVNAhealth another type of thankfulness is celebrated throughout the month. November is recognized as National Hospice & Palliative Care month. It is a time we show our appreciation for the nurses, aides, social workers, and others, who pour their heart and soul into the compassionate care of our hospice patients and their families.

”When asking any member of our team why they chose to work in the hospice field, you often hear the phrase ‘it’s an honor’ mentioned,” says Hospice Clinical Director, Jessica Velasco, RN, CDP. “They are honored to be a part of a patient’s end-story…honored to have families welcome them into their homes to care for their loved one…honored to share in a family’s personal stories, thoughts, and emotions. RVNAhealth’s Hospice team works around the clock daily to deliver a remarkable standard of care and support to our patients and their loved ones. During this month as we celebrate and recognize the hospice profession, please join me as we ‘turn the table’ and express what an honor it is to work alongside this amazing team!”

We send our tremendous gratitude and appreciation to the following Hospice teams:

Thank you to our Medical Directors who oversee the care and management of our patients. Our Medical Directors provide round the clock expertise, patient team coordination, and support to our Nursing and extended interdisciplinary teams, helping to ensure comfort through each patient’s individual hospice journey.

Thank you to our Nursing Team — those in the field and in the office, those who work weekdays, weekends, and night shifts. Our Nursing staff do everything from creating and overseeing patient care plans, to answering family calls and questions, to reviewing charts and ongoing adjusting of comfort measures, to teaching and helping loved ones to best support their family member. Our Nursing Team members work 24-7 to ensure patients and family members are supported through easily accessible communication and compassionate expert care.

Thank you to our CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants), a team that comprises a core function of everything we do in Hospice.  These talented hands-on health care professionals spend the most time with our patients, following plans of care, aiding with activities of daily living, and dynamically supporting their changing needs.

Thank you to our Social Workers who provide emotional and informational support and education to patients and their families, helping them navigate and understand the hospice care journey. They are also trained to comfort and guide families with grief both during and after a loved one’s passing.

Thank you to our Pastoral Care Team who provide non-denominational spiritual care that is personalized to each patient’s beliefs and wishes. Trained to help individuals explore and navigate feelings, understandings, and hopes, this team also provides bereavement support for our patients, loved ones, and the community.

Thank you to our Music Therapists who use their restorative talents to support comfort, fond memories, and the release of emotions throughout care. Whether as a quiet listening experience or as an active entertainment with dialogue or song, our music team strives to meet what a patient needs the most on any day.

Thank you to our Hospice Volunteer Team who have donated over 2,000 hours of their time in the last year alone providing visits to our patients and their families, as well as assisting in our offices. From chatting, to playing games, to walks, and supportive listening, our volunteers add meaningful moments to our hospice team every day.

Thank you to our Therapy Dog, Sophia who works tirelessly to provide joyful, tail-wagging visits and cuddles.

Thank you to all other RVNAhealth interdisciplinary teams who work to ensure our hospice program delivers best in class service to families when they need it most!

For more information on RVNAhealth Hospice services, please visit our website or call us at 203.438.5555.

Celebrating Life…RVNAhealth’s Annual Hospice Memorial Service

On Tuesday, June 21st, RVNAhealth’s ComfortWELL team hosted its second annual RVNAhealth Hospice Memorial Service in the Ridgefield office for the families and loved ones of our hospice patients who have passed away. The memorial service is an opportunity for all to honor their loved ones who have passed away and pay tribute to the lives they led. It was a beautiful evening, made particularly special by the bonds and love shared by families, friends, and staff. We are grateful to the families who came and to all the families who entrusted us with the care of their loved one in their final stage of life.


This time helps family heal, connect with the team who cared for their loved ones, and express one more time their experience. It not only helps families but also staff. Our hospice staff spend significant time with patients and their families. Special bonds are created, so we grieve for patients as well. As Hospice Nurse, Lauren Messina, MA, BSN, RN put it “seeing the names of my patients at the memorial service gave me a sense of closure.”


One of the family members in attendance expressed her immense gratitude for our continuum of care. Her husband had been under our home health services for rehabilitation therapy but, after recognizing a decline in his health, he was referred to our ComfortWell hospice services. She expressed how easy and smooth the transition had been. From home health to hospice, she was in awe of the high caliber of RVNAhealth staff who visited her husband.

A second RVNAhealth Hospice Memorial will be held this coming fall in New Milford for families and friends of our ComfortWELL patients in the northern territory.


For more information on RVNAhealth’s ComfortWELL hospice services, please visit our website, or call 203.438.5555.

In the Words of our Patients and Loved Ones…

“In February, 2021, my close friend Lewis Little died at his Redding home. In his final days, Lewis and I and his family received amazing care and support from your Hospice staff.  I continue to receive outreach from your Bereavement team, which I find very comforting. I sing with the Ridgefield Chorale.  Our Spring concert this May will include a video presentation of singers’ expression of thanks to people and organizations that supported them during the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic.  My intention is to include a photograph of myself holding a sign thanking RVNAhealth Hospice Services.”

– Margaret Sheahan

For more information about RVNAhealth Hospice services, please call 203.438.5555 or visit our website.


RVNAhealth Hospice Program Earns CHAP Re-Accreditation

During the week of September 27th, a CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Partner) surveyor was on-site in Ridgefield, conducting an audit of our Hospice program for re-accreditation; and reviewing our Palliative Care program for first-time accreditation.  It could not have gone better.Continue reading

Meet RVNAhealth Volunteer, Tiffany Lee

According to Tiffany Lee, if you have heart, anything is possible. Lee, a RVNAhealth music therapy hospice volunteer, would know. She is all heart. A Hong Kong native and second-year graduate student in Montclair University’s music therapy program, Lee is devoting her practicum, or field work, to hospice service where she brings the joy and unity of music to terminally-ill patients and their families.Continue reading

Meet RVNAhealth Volunteer, Elise Kohler

There is nothing sad about the hospice experience; it’s actually quite joyful. So says Elise Kohler, hospice music therapy volunteer and junior-year undergraduate at Montclair State University where she is working toward a music therapy degree. Continue reading