How to Choose a Hospice Care Provider
None of us have a choice when it comes to death, but everyone should have a choice about the care they receive at the end of life’s journey.
At the core of hospice care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity. A good hospice provider ensures their patients receive expert medical, emotional and spiritual care as well as support for the families of patients.
Hospice care focuses on family members as the primary caregivers, with the help of a skilled interdisciplinary team made up of nurses, physicians, social workers, spiritual care providers, hospice aides and many trained volunteers who provide services such as companionship for the patient and respite for the caregiver.
A patient is typically referred to hospice care by their primary care physician or a caseworker within a hospital setting. Hospice care is meant to provide the best care for terminally ill patients but not all hospice providers are created equally. Here are some questions to ask when researching and selecting the right hospice care provider for you or your loved one.
Is the hospice provider Medicare certified?
All hospice organizations that are Medicare certified must work within the guidelines set forth by Medicare. This means that the services offered by all hospice care providers are the same, while the level of quality and any extra services offered can vary widely.
What do others have to say about this hospice provider?
Many hospice organizations collect feedback from family members after their loved one has passed away. This can provide helpful insights into the experience others have had with this provider and what you can expect in turn.
How rapid is crisis response?
Response time is critical. When urgent needs arise, or if an emergency happens in the middle of the night, on weekends or holidays, it makes a difference how quickly your chosen care team can respond and tend to these needs. Ensuring a 24/7 on-call staff covers the area you live in and can reach your location in a timely manner can mean the difference between life and death.
What types of medical professionals are employed by the hospice?
It’s a good idea to check if the provider’s clinical staff is certified or credentialed in hospice and palliative care. Equally important is additional training and educational opportunities for both staff and family members.
How often will a hospice team member visit and how long will most visits last?
Hospice typically provides a much higher level of care than palliative does, with some care lasting 24 hours a day. Know when your entire care team will visit and for how long. This includes visits from physicians, nurses, social workers and even chaplains.
Are there options for inpatient care?
Most hospice care takes place in the home, in a nursing home or in a hospital setting. Fewer hospices have inpatient facilities, which makes Hospice of Southwest Ohio unique. Our Patient Care Center located in Madeira provides short- and long-term, 24-hour hospice care. We accept new patients transitioning from a hospital or other healthcare setting, as well as current HSWO in-home patients requiring inpatient care for uncontrollable symptoms.
Is respite care available for caregivers?
It’s important to understand what options exist if a family caregiver needs a rest. Ask providers if they offer respite care, for how long and how often.
Are there extra services offered beyond those required?
Hospice providers are required to provide a certain threshold of services to patients. What is offered beyond those is up to each individual provider. Hospice of Southwest Ohio offers numerous programs for patients and their families including opportunities for treasuring cherished moments through our Make a Memory program, preserving keepsake items through Bears of Love and one-hour voice recordings of patients telling the stories of a lifetime.
Are bereavement or grief support services offered?
The passing of a loved one is never easy. Hospice providers can offer bereavement and support services to help the family and friends of a loved one who has died to find peace and healing during a difficult time. Check with providers to see what emotional support services are provided in the aftermath of death.
Do volunteers provide additional services?
Hospice volunteers can provide a breadth of services to patients. Ours offer companionship and support to patients and their families, including coordinating pet therapy visits and reading to patients. A dedicated volunteer staff can be instrumental in helping the hospice provider to run smoothly and efficiently.
Does the hospice provider offer special programs to meet the needs of military veterans?
Some hospice providers offer additional support and resources to those who have served our country. We Honor Veterans partners like HSWO have demonstrated their commitment to improving the hospice care they provide to veterans and their families.