How to Choose a Hospice

Choosing a hospice provider that provides the best services is one of the most crucial decisions for yourself and your family.

For instance, if you realize that treatment is no longer the best option for a terminal disease, you need to choose hospice care. The primary purpose is to improve the quality of your life by making you feel as comfortable as possible for the few days you have to live.

By law, each hospice program should provide the same crucial services both to patients and their families. Therefore, there are several questions and factors you should consider to know whether you are choosing the right program.

Bearing these questions and factors in mind will ensure you get reliable, professional, and sympathetic end-of-life care services for you and your family.

Below are the factors to consider.

1. Evaluate the hospice's history and reputation.

You need to know the period the provider has been in business. Assess whether it hires its staff to offer care or contracts with other agencies. Research details about how previous patients and their families say concerning their experiences with the provider.

If you find excellent answers and reviews from such kind of assessment, then you can decide to choose such a provider for hospice care.

2. Confirm that the hospice provides all four levels of compulsory hospice care.

The four mandatory levels of care for any hospice should include:

  • Hospice care at homes such as a nursing home, private home, or assisted living facility
  • Inpatient hospice care required when it is impossible to manage pain and symptoms at home
  • Continuous 24 hours daily care (when medically needed)
  • Respite care for up to five days for caregivers.

Also, evaluate whether the provider can deliver all medications, medical equipment, and supplies associated with the incurable illness diagnosis to the patient at no cost or what it charges.

3. Check the policies related to the provider's certification, licensing and payment methods it uses

Check whether the hospice is licenced, Medicare-certified, and accredited in your state. Also, check whether it allows Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance coverage to pay for hospice care. A provider should also provide charity care options to patients without medical insurance or sustainable financial resources.

4. Inquire specifically about emergencies, timing, and the provider's ability to offer specialty care.

Some few factors to consider include:

  • How soon can hospice services begin?
  • Does the provider have a 24-hour hotline operated by a professional hospice medical team to respond to queries during emergencies?
  • Are patients admitted 24 hours per day, including the weekends or holidays?
  • Does it have professional bereavement services to support a family at the time of death?

5. Get relevant information about the extended type of care you and your family will obtain.

  • Does the hospice have an interdisciplinary such as a nurse, doctor, aide, volunteer, social worker, counselor, and bereavement specialist to address a patient's specific needs?
  • Does the program include a personalized care plan?
  • How often do team members visit?
  • Does their program train caregivers and family members about how to take care of a patient at home?

6. Evaluate the provider's capacity to address the needs of critically ill or complicated patients.

Can the provider take care of patients who have complex issues or struggling with more than one chronic illness?

Does the hospice offer palliative care to patients who are not eligible for hospice?

Is the staff qualified in specialized comfort care for incurable diseases such as cancer, HIV, cardiac patients, Dementia, Alzheimer's, among others?

Does the hospice involve care that honors the beliefs, traditions, religions and needs of specific populations such as Latinos, veterans, African American, Latino, Jewish LGBTQ, Haitian, Asian, among others?

7. Explore supportive services.

Check whether the provider trains families to use medical equipment at home.

Does the hospice provide extra combined services such as massage therapy, music therapy, among others?

Is the staff available to discuss advance care planning and directives?

How long will the bereavement program persist after a patient's death?

8. After you have communicated with your desired hospice provider, including the staff members, focus on your impressions.

Consider whether the representatives you talked with were compassionate and good communicators. Also, check if they answered all your questions satisfactorily.

Additional Questions to Ask While Choosing a Hospice

Knowing the essential questions regarding hospice care is significant as knowing the hospice team to ask.

Knowledge about end-of-life care available options can turn challenging patient conditions into a "good death." It would help if you aimed to collect information and ask the right questions about a hospice you are choosing to ensure you get the best provider for your family or your unique condition.

Also, ensure that the experiences, relationships and memories you get from a hospice are positive and encouraging for years to come.

Below are some crucial questions to ask that will help you when choosing a hospice that will match your conditions and needs.

  • How fast will a hospice develop a care plan for a patient?
  • Is the hospice able to respond quickly to increasing pains and symptoms if medications fail to act adequately to a patient's concern?
  • Are there any services, equipment, or medications that the hospice doesn't offer?
  • If the hospice requests for medication, where can a patient pick it, does the hospice perform delivery?
  • What is the average cost for hospice services that a family should expect?
  • How frequently should a hospice team member visit and the expected duration for each visit?
  • What can you expect from the family caregiver, and will the hospice train them?
  • Is inpatient care necessary, and how will a hospice deal with it?
  • What is the typical response time if we need to reach someone at the hospice after regular business hours, or on weekends and holidays?
  • How quickly can a hospice manage pain and symptoms?
  • What actions does hospice take if it is unable to manage a patient's pain at home sufficiently?
  • Does the hospice care team members have additional certifications and training for their hospice and palliative skills?
  • Does the hospice provide respite care to allow the family caregivers to have a break, and how are the arrangements for respite care?
  • What assistance can you get from hospice volunteers, and how can a patient ask for help from a volunteer?
  • Does the hospice include a committed on-call team twenty-four-hour daily?
  • What type of bereavement support does the hospice provide?
  • If patients are not satisfied with some aspect or quality of hospice care, who can they contact at the hospice?

Additional information when choosing a hospice provider

Choosing a hospice provider is not a light decision since you will need lots of research and thought during your decision-making process.

Research by Consumer Reports indicates that if a patient's condition improves depending on the provider's services that enhance the quality of life, hospice can discontinue, and treatment resumed.

The fact is that you should not delay using hospice care when you are in denial since you are always doing the right thing for your loved ones.

For information about our Hospice Assist services, kindly contact our office, and we can ensure we have the best answers to all the questions you have before enrolling in our provider.