The mere thought of you or someone you care about entering into hospice care can be overwhelming, to say the least. You’ve recently received devastating news, and now you have the task of selecting an organization who will provide care for the remainder of you or your loved one’s life. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information available out there, and there are several important questions you can ask to help you decide who is the right provider for you.
How will we pay for this?
One of the first concerns people have when deciding on a hospice agency is what it will cost. The most important thing to remember is that a good quality hospice provider will not refuse hospice care to anyone, regardless of your ability to pay. Because hospice is a service covered by Medicare, most people receive benefits through that, although commercial insurance plans can also cover hospice.
What do other families say about the hospice agency?
A facility’s reputation is probably the first thing you will assess in choosing a hospice agency. You’ll find a wealth of information by speaking with other families about their personal experience as well as searching online to see what past experiences families may have shared.
Is the hospice provider accredited and certified?
It may seem like a no-brainer that if a facility is in operation they are accredited, but that may not necessarily be the case. Not all states require accreditation for hospices, but it can go a long way knowing the hospice provider you choose for you or your loved one has been reviewed by an outside party, like the Joint Commission or CHAP, and has met set standards to provide quality end-of-life care.
Does the hospice provide respite care for families?
Caring for a loved one with a terminal illness can be physically and emotionally exhausting. In addition to usual medical care, most hospice providers offer brief breaks when families are unable to manage care on their own. Make sure you understand the conditions under which this is offered.
What does a typical day look like under hospice care with this organization?
Modern hospice care is patient-centered, and daily schedules should reflect the needs and wishes of the patients and their families. The schedule for care and services provided is tailored to each patient’s individual health status and personal preferences. This will also be adjusted over time as the patient’s condition changes. This will include everything from mealtimes to medications and treatments to leisure activities.
What additional services does the hospice provider offer?
Somewhat in line with respite care, many families wonder what other types of support they can benefit from while their loved one is in hospice care. Many providers offer volunteer services to help with errands and chores around the house such as light cleaning or occasional cooking. This can be extremely important especially if the patient has limited mobility and the family caregivers are still trying to maintain a work schedule outside of the home.
Will my loved one continue to receive the care and treatments they currently receive?
The patient’s regular physician will continue to be an important part of their care team. The treatments and services the patient continues to receive or decides to not continue with will be up to the patient, their family and their medical team. This may include how they wish to manage pain, whether to continue treating tumors that cause discomfort, and other choices that will be made to enhance the comfort of the patient.
What kind of bereavement services does the hospice agency offer?
This is important not only to the patient but also to support the family during and after this difficult time period. Grief support can vary by hospice provider, but typically a family can expect options including counseling services with chaplains or social workers, support groups and other educational materials to prepare them for the different phases of this process.