Determining the appropriate end-of-life hospice care that you or a loved one needs can seem like a daunting task during an already difficult time. In a recent blog describing palliative care and palliative care, I have received many responses from readers who want to know how to choose a hospice program that is right for them. Many of these readers have shared their experiences with palliative care with me; some good and some bad. I’ve compiled some tips from industry experts to help take the guesswork out of choosing a hospice.
One of the first things to remember when beginning your quest for hospice care is to realize that hospice is first and foremost a business, and while it is a well-intentioned business, they want yours. That said, it’s important to ask questions and get answers before committing to something. The differences between hospices are often difficult to determine as they tend to provide similar services. While memberships in state hospice organizations and the National hospices in houston Organization may seem impressive, they are available to any hospice. What matters is that a hospice is certified by Medicare, as Medicare provides the basic requirements for quality care.
To qualify for Medicare certification, hospices must offer 16 separate basic and ancillary services. Basic services include grief counseling, nutritional services, and medical services. Continuing home care, physical therapy, medication administration, and home services are examples of ancillary services. It is also important whether a hospice will accept your insurance. The Hospice blog offers great tips and advice to help you streamline your search process. First, find out who owns the hospice agency you are considering and what the background of the owner is. Is the hospice service a not-for-profit, for-profit, or government-run organization? The type of ownership can influence the services a hospice patient receives. And talk to the administrator when you contact a hospice.
Let’s face it, the administrator has the authority to say yes or no to anything that the hospice office assistant or hospice employer has promised. If you have found a hospice that meets your needs, make sure it is the central office, rather than a branch office. Generally, the home office nurse has access to the person in charge. Branches generally do not have employees who make financial or business decisions. Finally, before choosing a hospice, find out where the nurse on duty lives. If the nurse lives far from the palliative care patient, the response time will be longer.
Once you have compiled a short list of hospices, it is important to interview each one to determine if a particular hospice meets your needs. Compile a list of questions to ask the hospice administrator. Here are some questions to get you started.
How old is the hospice?
What services does the hospice program offer?
How often will a nurse or other hospice staff visit?
Who owns the hospice? Does the hospice have any accreditation?
What quality standards does hospice meet?