What to ask when selecting a hospice or palliative care service

Is the hospice been certified by Medicare?

Most hospices are certified by Medicare and are required to follow Medicare rules and regulations. Your Medicare/Medicaid plan will cover hospice care.

Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal agency in the last year?

Hospice agencies are regularly surveyed. A supervisor can answer this question and let you know how they passed the survey. If deficiencies were found, it is likely the agency resolved them.

Does the hospice have an internal QAPI department?

Quality assurance is important when choosing your hospice or palliative care provider. Make sure they have internal checks and balances to assure their services are top-notch.

Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide care in a hospice residence, hospital or nursing home? If not, do they partner with an in-patient care facility?

There are instances when patient care at home is not an option. Perhaps the patient is in crisis or the caregiver needs a respite. Hospices either have a general in-patient facility or may contract with a facility that they are familiar with and have other patients in that facility.

 

Is the staff certified, credentialed or trained in hospice and palliative care?

Certification and training is available for all disciplines in hospice and palliative care.

Is staff available for emergency visits if a crisis occurs?

There are different types of emergencies. It can be clinical or non-clinical. Find out what staff is available should a crisis occur on the weekends or evenings. 

Does the hospice have a 24/7 call center?

Some hospices offer a 24/7, centralized triage call center. These call centers help to ensure that the patient's needs are taken care of in a timely manner.

 

Does the hospice offer any special programs?

All hospices offer medical care, emotional and spiritual care, medical equipment, medicines, etc. Some hospice go above and beyond with special programs for specific diseases such as cancer or pulmonary diseases. 

How long has the hospice been serving your community?

If they have been in your community for some time, it's likely possible to get feedback from families of past patients.

 

What is the patient to staff ratio for each discipline?

Find out how many patients each nurse works with. It could be a mis-match for your needs.

 

How quickly can the patient get care?

Hospice care is available once all paperwork is signed. Find out how quickly that person can come out to sign paperwork to get you care. Time is of the essence.

 

What kind of organization is the company?

Some hospices are non-profit, for-profit, government, faith-based or part of a larger healthcare organization.

 

"We Honor Veterans" is a program from NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization). If you are a veteran, does that hospice participate and what do they offer to patients who are vets?

The "We Honor Veterans" program offers veterans and their families the opportunity to honor the patients who have served our country in the most selfless way. 

Are volunteers available and what services do they offer patients and families?

Volunteering in hospice comes in many forms. It can be light housekeeping, hand holding, reading a book or just a friendly conversation to keep patients from feeling isolated.

Do the volunteers get special training?

Coming into someone's home to help does not always come naturally to everyone. Find out what the Volunteer Coordinator does to help the volunteers become comfortable with their assigned patients.