If you’re dealing with urgent medical concerns, you may be tempted to rush through hospice care decisions. Finding the right care at the right time requires asking important questions before choosing a provider.
Find time for honest conversations about what matters most to you and your family?
When you understand your goals and priorities, conversations with doctors and hospice providers will be more productive. Some hospice patients value awareness more than eliminating all their pain. Patients may want to realize a dream trip, while others cherish the comforts of home. Ask lots of questions and let your voice be heard.
Make a list of questions for potential hospice providers. Remember that medical and emotional needs will change during end-of-life care. Ask the staff how the care plan adapts to your needs.
Important decisions include the personal and medical priorities of the hospice patient, location for care, and who will be family caregivers.
- How will you manage pain and other symptoms to a desired level?
- How often will staff visit?
- What medical equipment and personal supplies are provided?
- Are there costs associated with any services or medications?
- What if symptoms become uncontrollable or require emergency care?
- How quickly can hospice staff respond to urgent needs?
- What family support services do you offer?
- Is the staff experienced with your loved one's specific life-limiting illness?
- Do they have support services for veterans?
- What staff qualifications or training do you require? RNs? Aides? Volunteers?
- Is care available after business hours and on weekends?
- What if we're not happy with nurses or other staff?
Web searches will help you find local providers. Visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization for a searchable map of hospice providers in your area. Hospice Compare is a Medicare website for hospice quality of care information. Compassus has an online map of locations.
Medicare requires a specific list of services from all Medicare-approved hospice providers. While services are similar, a hospice may have more experience with a certain medical condition or situations similar to yours.
Hospice providers are also licensed for a specific area of coverage in your state. Doctors typically know the providers in your area, but the final decision is yours.
Coverage includes nurses, other caregivers, medicines, supplies and equipment, with no out-of-pocket expenses for the hospice diagnosis.