Hospice care is a set of services that anyone might need at the end of life. Although we might not like to think about it, anyone of us could be in a situation where hospice is required. While you might not have a choice about your loved one’s health or current situation, you do have a choice in the providers that will make their last days more comfortable. When choosing a hospice provider for a loved one you want to ensure that you are choosing the best provider for their care. It is difficult to accept the situation, but knowing that you are placing your loved one in the hands of caring professionals that will ensure that they are comfortable can help ease the tension.
Finding the right hospice provider isn’t as simple as looking at the first result on a search engine; it takes care, and you must ensure that you are doing as much research beforehand as possible. Because many hospice care providers offer similar services, it’s the things that aren’t included in the pamphlet that matter the most.
Today we’ll discuss 13 questions that you should ask when choosing a hospice provider to ensure that you are making the right decision for your loved one and the people that they might leave behind.
- Do you have any references? You want to know what other people are saying about the hospice service you consider. Ask for references from people you know personally along with people at local hospitals and nursing homes. You should also ask the hospice provider to see if any reputable physicians, nursing homes, etc. recommend them.
- How long has this hospice been around? If a hospice provider has been in the community for decades, it’s a safe assumption that they have a good reputation throughout the community for providing quality end of life services. That being said, even if they are a relatively new provider in the area, if they have good references and reviews, they might not be a bad selection for your loved one.
- What is the family’s role in the care? Some hospices will expect that the family play a role in the hospice care for their loved one. Make sure that you ask to ensure that your family is able to meet their needs adequately without bearing any more burdens than you can.
- How many patients are assigned to each member of the hospice staff?Many hospice providers will assign a specific number of patients to each member of the staff and will be willing to disclose that information. Ideally, you’d want to know that your loved one will receive the one-on-one attention they need. If each member of the staff is responsible for a dozen patients, the level of individual attention will be divided between all of their patients.
- What is the hospice’s governance structure? Hospice providers can be either for-profit, non-profit, faith-based, government, or a part of a large healthcare organization. Because many providers offer the same services no matter their structure, it will come down to what your family prefers.
- Are there any limits to the treatments that they provide?If your loved one requires special treatment options, you want to ensure beforehand that the hospice provider that you consider is able to meet their needs before you check in. Any reputable hospice provider should be able to provide a list of all of the services they offer along with any that they might not as well.
- What are there crisis response times? If you enroll in home hospice care, you want to know that if an emergency arises at 2 in the morning that they will be able to respond rapidly. Ask about their average time of response and the times of the day or night that they are available.
- Is the staff certified in palliative care? Even if the answer is “no” that doesn’t mean that you should cross the provider off of your list of options. Even if they aren’t certified, if they have years of experience working in palliative care they should be more than qualified to care for your loved one. However, having the certification means that they have taken specialized courses in palliative nursing and medicine.
- How does the hospice provider measure and track the quality of their services? This question doesn’t require much technical detail but a way to gauge how much they care about improving their services. The old saying is “What gets measured gets managed,” and if they have processes in place to measure their performance each month, you can rest assured knowing they consistently seek to improve the patient experience.
- Is the hospice accredited? Are they state-licensed? Most hospice providers aren’t required to have accreditation (typically JCAHO or CHAP). If they don’t have it, you shouldn’t cross them off of your list, but it is always better to have it than not to have it. Having accreditation means that a third party has inspected the hospice provider’s facilities and operations and determined that they met a reasonable standard of care.
- Are they Medicare-certified? If your loved one is a Medicare beneficiary, this question is essential. To receive Medicare reimbursement for their services the provider must be certified. Also, when a hospice provider is Medicare-certified, they must follow Medicare rules and regulations which ensures that the care they provide is up to Medicare’s standards.
- Do they offer extra services? While most hospice providers offer the same basic services, some might have more funding to offer care services that can improve the quality of their patients. Additional services could include radiation or chemotherapy for cancer patients to help reduce the size of tumors to improve their quality of life during their stay.
- What services do volunteers offer? To help improve the quality of life during the patient’s stay, volunteers can come in to provide emotional support, run errands, do light cleaning, and more. Ask to see what services volunteers perform and also ask about the screening process for a volunteer to work in the hospice.
Choosing a hospice provider for your loved one can be a stressful process, but with the right questions in mind, you should be able to narrow down the best choice for your family and your loved one.