Seven Questions to Ask When Choosing a Hospice

Seven Questions to Ask When Choosing a Hospice

Depending on where you live there could be one or several hospice organizations serving your community. Here are some questions to ask when deciding which hospice you want to care for you or your loved one.

  1. Is the hospice Medicare certified?

Most hospices are certified by Medicare and are, therefore, required to follow Medicare rules and regulations. This is important if wish to receive hospice care as part of your Medicare/Medicaid coverage.

  1. Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal oversight agency in the last five years?

Ask when the last survey was and if any deficiencies were noted and if so, have they been resolved.

  1. Is the hospice accredited by a national organization?

Several organizations accredit hospices, surveying them to ensure they meet quality standards. Hospices are not required to be accredited but accreditation can be a reflection of commitment to quality.

  1. Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide home-like care in a hospice residence, hospital or nursing home?

This may be important to you if the care needed is complex and/or family caregivers cannot care for the person at home. If you have a preferred hospital or nursing home, it’s important to find out which ones the hospice has contracts with so they can continue to provide your hospice services in this different setting.

  1. Will staff come to the home if there is a crisis at night or on weekends?

Hospice staff are available by phone to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, some hospices offer limited in-home support on nights and weekends, while others are able to send staff out to a patient’s home no matter when a crisis arises. Ask which members of the care team are available in a crisis situation during nights and weekends.

  1. How long has the hospice been operating in the community? What is the organization’s governance structure?

Length of time in the community and if the organization is a non-profit, for-profit, government or faith-based organization or part of a larger healthcare company may be important to you and your family.

  1. What screening and training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families?

Volunteers can provide a variety of services including friendly visits, light household chores, running errands, personal care, etc. All volunteers must receive training or orientation on hospice care, but some provide specialized training. Ask how the hospice matches volunteers with patients and families.

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