When you need to select hospice care, it can be an extremely difficult time. Besides the emotional trauma, you need to deal with practical matters like insurance coverage and medical care. Most hospices offer the same basic services, so how do you differentiate between them to choose what’s best for your needs?
Probably the first thing to consider is insurance coverage. Most hospice programs participate in Medicare, but if you have different insurance you may want to check your coverage. Sometimes the hospice facility needs to be a preferred provider of your insurance program for services to be covered.
What are the credentials of the hospice you are considering? Your state and community will have certain standards that a hospice must meet in order to operate. In addition, some may have accreditation by independent, not-for-profit organizations providing accreditation and standards-setting for hospitals and health care organizations all over the country.
Ask your physician for programs he has worked with. Also speak to friends who have used hospice services in their own family for recommendations.
Schedule a meeting with a representative from the hospice programs you are considering. The person you meet with should come to you and if possible, include the patient and spouse or primary caregiver. Check before you schedule that there is no charge for this consultation and that you will not be obligated to choose them as a provider. Items to discuss are the services provided and all the specific questions you have. Write down all your questions ahead of time and have someone write down the answers. This will make it easier to compare and make this important decision.
Some Questions to Ask:
- Will you work with our doctors?
- Do you require advance directives and living will before you provide services?
- Do you have any special accreditation?
- Is your staff specially trained?
- When can you start providing care?
- Does your care program include family and caregiver support?
Once you’re satisfied that a particular hospice program meets your needs, you can proceed with their program. You’ll never regret the decision to give the highest quality of life and care for your loved one as they journey through the final stages of life.